REVIEW: THE SNOWMAN (2017)

Starring

Michael Fassbender (Shame)
Rebecca Ferguson (The White Queen)
Charlotte Gainsbourg (Independence Day: Resurgence)
Val Kilmer (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang)
J. K. Simmons (Whiplash)
Toby Jones (The Hunger Games)
David Dencik (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)
Ronan Vibert (Hex)
Chloë Sevigny (Lizzie)
James D’Arcy (Bates Motel)
Genevieve O’Reilly (The Legend of Tarzan)
Alec Newman (Dune)

Michael Fassbender in The Snowman (2017)At a remote cabin amidst heavy snowfall, a woman confronts a brutal man named Jonas saying she is going to tell his wife about their illegitimate son. The son overhears this and leaves the house and builds a snowman. Jonas leaves angrily in his car. The woman and her son pursue him, but lose him in the snow. She lets go of the steering wheel, causing the car to drive off the road onto a frozen lake. The boy manages to escape from the sinking car, but the woman stays inside in an apparent suicide.Harry Hole is a brilliant but troubled inspector with the Norwegian Police Service’s Oslo district, struggling with the aftermath of his break-up with his girlfriend Rakel and her new relationship with Mathias, a renowned surgeon. Harry was very close to her son Oleg, who is unaware that Harry is his biological father. Oleg mentions, on an outing with Harry, that his mother (Rakel) refused to let him search for his father. Harry receives a mysterious letter signed with the drawing of a snowman, and is paired with a brilliant new recruit, Katrine Bratt. The two are assigned to a missing persons case of Birte Becker, who vanished from her house after being followed home by a red Volvo.Rebecca Ferguson, Michael Fassbender, and Joakim Skarli in The Snowman (2017)The police receive a report of another missing woman named Sylvia Otterson. When Harry and Katrine travel to her farmhouse to investigate, they find her alive and well. They brush the report off as a prank call and leave, but shortly thereafter a figure wearing a black ski mask stalks and kills Sylvia outside her house, using a wire fastening harness to decapitate her. Harry receives another call about Otterson, and returning to the farmhouse comes face-to-face with her identical twin sister Ane. They search the property and find Sylvia’s beheaded corpse inside her barn, and her head atop a snowman inside an empty storage tank.Jonas Karlsson and Michael Fassbender in The Snowman (2017)Connecting the letter with the presence of a snowman at the crime scene of the murder with the snowman at the scene of the first woman’s (Birte) disappearance, Harry’s research leads him to a previous case in Bergen, involving a similar set of circumstances. He travels to meet the case’s investigating officer Gert Rafto, but upon arrival learns that Rafto died eight years prior through what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound, and that the case went cold after his apparent suicide. Inside Rafto’s old cabin, he finds a jacket and a photograph that lead him to realize that Katrine is Rafto’s daughter, and is likely out to find her father’s real killer.Michael Fassbender in The Snowman (2017)Katrine believes that Arve Støp, a business tycoon implicated in the earlier case, is behind her father’s death. Støp is involved in a high-class prostitution ring overseen by Idar Vetelsen, a doctor working at a clinic all the current victims had visited. Birte’s cell phone begins transmitting again, and the signal is traced to Vetelsen’s house. When the police raid it, they find Vetelsen dead of a shotgun blast to the head, along with the remains of Birte and another victim named Hegen Dahl. Katrine begins to seduce Støp at a fundraiser event, and he asks her to meet him in his hotel room. She sets a trap for him inside, but she is attacked and drugged by a masked figure who severs her right finger and uses it to unlock the biometric security measures on her work tablet, wiping all the data from it. The next morning, Harry sees the impression of a snowman atop his snow-covered car, and inside finds Katrine dead in the driver’s seat.Rakel tells Harry that Oleg has run away after Harry missed a school camping trip which he was supposed to have gone to. Oleg stays at a friend’s house, and when Rakel arrives to tell Harry the two kiss and almost have sex. Mathias calls to tell Rakel that he is picking up Oleg to take him home. Upon returning home, Mathias drugs and ties up Rakel, then does the same to Oleg, taking both of them to a cottage in Telemark. Harry locates the cottage, where he finds that Mathias has Rakel and Oleg hostage with the cutter to Rakel’s throat. Mathias is revealed as the boy at the start of the film, who hated his mother for committing suicide and, thus, abandoning him. Harry attacks Mathias and manages to get the cutter off of Rakel’s neck, losing a finger in the process. Mathias escapes and Harry gives pursuit, chasing him onto the ice. Mathias manages to shoot Harry, but the ice beneath Mathias’ feet suddenly cracks and breaks apart, dropping him into the water below and dragging him under the current to his death. After having his injuries treated, Harry returns to the police precinct, and volunteers for a new homicide case.The movie is really slow-paced at first, it does pick up in the second half though. It’s got a very creepy, disturbing feel to it as well, and Fassbender is good in the lead. The characters aren’t very well developed though, and the movie is mostly just dull. It might be worth watching late one night.

REVIEW: AGENT CARTER – SEASON 1

MAIN CAST
Hayley Atwell (Cinderella)
James D’Arcy (Hitchcock)
Chad Michael Murray (House of Wax)
Enver Gjokaj (Dollhouse)
Shea Whigham (American Hustle)
Chad Michael Murray and Hayley Atwell in Agent Carter (2015)
RECURRING AND NOTABLE GUEST CAST
Dominic Cooper (Dracula Untold)
Lyndsy Fonseca (Kick-Ass)
James Frain (Gotham)
James Landry Hebert (Looper)
Meagen Fay (Species 4)
Ray Wise (Robocop)
Ralph Garman (Ted)
Bridget Regan (Beauty and the Beast 2012)
Jack Conley (Angel)
Neal McDonough (Arrow)
Leonard Roberts (Heroes)
Rick Peters (Veronica Mars)
Ralph Brown (Alien 3)
Toby Jones (The Hunger Games)
James Frain (Star Trek: Discovery)
Lesley Boone (Medium)
James Urbaniak (Terminator: TSCC)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Eddie Shin (Westworld)
John Glover (Smallville)
Devin Ratray (Home Alone)
Ralph Garman (Ted)
Considering it was a 1940s period piece starring an already-established, likable character and was created by the guys who wrote Captain America: The Winter Soldier, you’d think people would have been more excited going into Marvel’s Agent Carter. Not that I didn’t see plenty of excitement as well, mind you, but I also saw a lot of cynicism – stuff about how it was a “prequel” and thus “wouldn’t matter” and also about how because Peggy and the other characters didn’t have superpowers, “Who cares?”But Agent Carter didn’t need to succeed by setting up something to pay off in another film it just needed to be an entertaining, involving show. And boy, was it.
Yes, it only got better as it went along, but Agent Carter — which came from executive producers/showrunners Michele Fazekas & Tara Butters — was a lot of fun from the start. Hayley Atwell had already established how great she is as the character and easily slid into the lead role, and pairing her with Edwin Jarvis (James D’Arcy) was an inspired move. Atwell and D’Arcy had terrific, non-romantic, chemistry together, playing Peggy and Jarvis as an instantly lovable, quirky duo and making the scenes where Jarvis accompanied Peggy on missions really pop – even before Peggy got to beat up bad guys.
With only eight episodes, Agent Carter moved quickly, in a satisfying manner. Bridget Regan was introduced as Peggy’s neighbor, Dottie, and just a week later – with fans already speculating on what her character could really be – she’s killing a guy, leading into a really awesome reveal that Agent Carter was introducing the Black Widow program into the mix.

Agent Carter wasn’t tied into the modern Marvel movies in a direct way, but there were a ton of cool connections throughout, beyond Peggy’s important history with Captain America. Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper), while only appearing in three episodes, was crucial to the story, and we got an intriguing look into his psyche in the season finale.
Dum Dum Dugan and the Howling Commandos showed up, we got to see more than one Black Widow at work and then there was Dr. Ivchenko, AKA Fr. Fennhoff – who is also known as the Marvel villain Dr. Faustus and who turned out to be tied into the Winter Soldier by the end, via a cool Marvel-movie type final scene.
In general, all the characters were really clicked. It was surprising to see Lyndsy Fonseca play a non-action role here, but she made Angie incredibly likable and charismatic and the scenes between her and Peggy were very sweet, showing Peggy making a far more normal connection than her life usually allows. Early on, I was concerned by the portrayal of the men at the SSR. Except for Enver Gjokaj’s sympathetic Daniel Sousa, they all felt pretty one note. Yes, it was important and fitting, given the era the show was set in, to show just how dismissive the guys in the office, in general, were of Peggy, unable to see just how skilled she was and the contributions she could bring. But the first couple of episodes had Thompson (Chad Michael Murray), Dooley (Shea Wigwam) and Krzeminski (Kyle Bornheimer) all feeling pretty similar and one-note, in a way that could have quickly become grating. Fortunately, the most annoying of this bunch, Krzeminski, was soon dead and Dooley and Thompson became much more nuanced as the season continued.
Dooley doing his own investigating and seeing that things didn’t ad up as  Howard Stark being the culprit was a great touch, letting us see why this guy was in charge in the first place. And the mission in Russia in “The Iron Ceiling”(a standout episode) gave us a ton of insight into Thompson and who he really was versus the image he projected. The season culminated in a very satisfying manner, with Dooley’s noble sacrifice, the reason behind Fennhoff’s anger at Howard revealed and a big cathartic release for Peggy, who got to beat Dottie in combat and finally really and truly put Steve Rogers to rest. This latter part was especially handled well and reinforced something that had been occurring to me all season – that it was especially silly to dismiss Agent Carter as “a prequel” when, if anything, it worked as a pretty direct sequel to Captain America: The First Avenger, simply following what happened next for Peggy (and, to a lesser extent, Howard) after that film’s events, instead of Steve.