Why Aren’t You Watching This?


Movie Review – Avengers 2 Age of Ultron

film, Reviews, Why Aren't You Watching This?

May 1, 2015

The original Avengers was an amazing movie.

It took characters established in three other successful franchises and one other franchise that wasn’t so great and expounded upon their stories while moving everyone forward. There’d never been anything like it, despite the rather simplistic “there’s a bad guy, go fight him” plot. The previous movies leading up to it gave the Avengers weight, a sense of gravitas. It was a climax that had been earned through meticulous and careful storytelling.

The sequel takes everything that made the original good and expands upon it.

Our main six heroes – Black Widow, Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, and Hawkeye – are all given their moments to shine and show a casual familiarity with one another. They feel like old friends and comrades, and seeing them work together in the opening few moments is a thrill beaten only by watching those relationships expand throughout the film. They are torn apart from within, their fears laid bear, the monsters they could be thrown in their faces until it nearly destroys all of them. In the end, they discover they have only one another to rely upon.

And they accept this. They have to. There’s a surprising degree of gray morality in this movie. The villain comes about from the best of intentions, and the side villains become who they are to defend their country and avenge their parents. There’s a lot going on in this movie, with details that appear to be thrown in as simple amusements instead have massive character-defining payoffs in the third act.

That’s nine major characters, each with a complete story arc that offers each a satisfying conclusion based on who we know them to be.

If that were all that was being offered, this movie would be well and good and that would be enough. It isn’t all we’re given, though – we get a full world that is dealing with the presence of the Avengers, a world that is still reeling from the crimes of Hyrda and Obadiah Staine, a world still haunted by Loki’s scepter.

We get a world that isn’t sure what’s going on or who to trust, a world without SHIELD, but even that fabled group manages to redeem itself by the end of the story.

The first Avengers moved the story of the Marvel cinematic universe forward, and this does the same thing – it just manages to be a much more complex and satisfying story while doing it, and hints at the legacy to come. You were probably planning on seeing it anyway, but, really – go see this movie.

In short...

The Good – the acting, direction, performances, sound design, and pacing. The way everyone moves and evolves in a movie that is, principally, about evolution. The way this ends, victory tinged with sadness, and hope for the future.

The Bad – No scene after the end credits. No Black Widow movie. Waiting a year for Civil War. What the hell, Marvel?

The Verdict – see this movie and take note. This is what superhero movies can be, the bar set to something that Dawn of Justice is not going to be able to match without a lot of work.

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Videos, Why Aren't You Watching This?

April 9, 2015

Daredevil is sort of an odd duck, as far as superheroes go.

At first glance, he’s a hero who has no powers. He’s a blind man whose powers mean that he’s not really blind, who works as a lawyer in a crime ridden section of New York that’s bad enough to be called Hell’s Kitchen. He has no other powers other than not being really blind. He dresses in a bright red costume and uses a billy club as a weapon and he’s really kind of ridiculous.

Or, you know, he should be.


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Vikings – Raiding History

Reviews, Showcase, Uncategorized, Why Aren't You Watching This?

February 16, 2015

Drawing upon history to create entertainment is nothing new. Shakespeare himself was fond of crafting historical fan-fiction with works like MacBeth or Julius Caesar, and every writer before and since has added to the stock pile. Most of the time, these works are meant to add a cultural slant to whatever period is being covered, and have less to do what actually happened than what we’d like to think happened. It’s an excuse to laugh at our forebears, to laud ourselves for how far we’ve advanced.


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Dual Perspectives: Jupiter Ascending

Reviews, Showcase, Why Aren't You Watching This?

February 11, 2015

What a waste. That’s what I kept thinking all throughout this movie. Don’t get me wrong – Jupiter Ascending does everything right. It’s a female-led hero’s journey steeped in an internally logical science-magic based universe of epic scale. It has a fully developed character and a host of Hero’s Journey archetypes in a beautifully realized world and it’s going to lose to Spongebob Squarepants and end up forgotten because of shitty advertising, over-expectation, and a piss-pour release date.


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How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Blacklist

Reviews, Why Aren't You Watching This?

February 3, 2015

There’s something to be said for James Spader.

He’s an incredible actor who brings both a sense of joy and a sense of menace to his work. It’s always there, from Stargate to Boston Legal, this sense that he knows more than he’s letting on. More than that, you watch him and feel that whatever it is that he knows, that you do not is terrifying.


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Mindful Trashy Television – How To Get Away With Murder

Reviews, Showcase, Why Aren't You Watching This?

January 26, 2015

There used to be this thing, back in the dark days of the eighties, where people would complain about mindless trashy television. Programming like Married with Children and Rosanne used to be accused of it – programming without character, arc, or merit. The idea was that these shows were designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator, and thus no one really paid attention to them. The trick of it was, especially with Rosanne, was that they could provide incredibly insightful social commentary because no one would admit to watching them. These were the shows that came closest to informing us as to actual cultural norms, and we defined them to guilty pleasures and shuffled our feet when talking about them, but we did talk about them. We did watch them. We learned about ourselves and our society from them.


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12 Monkeys [Review]

Reviews, Why Aren't You Watching This?

January 26, 2015

2015 has a number of geek-themed shows and movies being queued up. There will be PLENTY of media for us nerds to get our fix on… and one of the first showings of new materials this year was this week’s premier of the Sy Fy channel’s take on the classic time-travel piece 12 Monkeys. (more…)

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Evolving Television – Yes Plot, No Plot, Where Plot?, There Plot!

Fail, Reviews, Uncategorized, Why Aren't You Watching This?

January 20, 2015

"Not this."

“I am gazing into your soul.”

Elementary is one of those shows that polarizes people. It had the unfortunate timing to come out after BBC’s Sherlock, which got this whole Benedict Cumberbatch thing started by being, well, incredible. Sherlock translated Sherlock Holmes into the modern world in a believable way, with interesting characters and cases, and had one of the strongest first seasons of any television program in history.

CBS’ Elementary seems an echo of Sherlock, what with also placing Sherlock Holmes in a modern setting, but everywhere Sherlock zigs, Elementary zags. There’s similarities between the two that harken back to the source material, but Elementary went out of its way to establish that their Sherlock was a very different sort of character, and the show works because of it. (more…)

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Why Aren’t you Watching This? Constantine

Culture, Reviews, Showcase, Why Aren't You Watching This?

January 12, 2015

Constantine - Season 1“Hey, wanna watch Constantine?” I asked my friend.

“The movie with Keanu Reeves?” He scratched the back of his neck, looking mystified.

“No, no, there’s a TV series.”

“Is it based on the Keanu Reeves movie?”

“No, it’s based on Hellblazer, the comics that the Keanu Reeves movie was based on.”

“Oh. Uh, sure.” He sounded doubtful, but by the time we were done watching the first episode he was hooked. (more…)

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