The Amazing Spider-man 2- What a mixed bag. The fight scenes are amazing. The special effects are incredible. The soundtrack is really creative. The actors do a great job with the characters. There are a handful of scenes here that are absolutely pitch perfect. Unfortunately, there’s an entire movie around these pitch perfect scenes that isn’t so great. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 seems to be dead set on repeating one of the biggest problems with Sam Raimi’s Spiderman 3, stuffing way too much stuff in one movie. As result you have talented actors that are painfully under utilized, and relationships that feel forced and unnatural. The script has additional problems, from inconsistent characterization, to some really, cheese ball moments. The Amazing Spider-man 2 is unique in the fact that it both moved me to tears, and made me want to check my watch constantly. The Sinister Six movie better have a damn good trailer if it wants to get me excited about this franchise again. C
Godzilla (2014)– I must admit that I feel a little guilty about reviewing this movie because it was deeply impacted by a very negative movie going experience. Still, I found very little about this movie to hold my interest. All of the human characters feel disappointingly one note, and for a movie called “Godzilla,” this movie doesn’t feature enough of our favorite giant lizard. Oh and the dialogue? Awful, awful, awful. Admittedly, there were a couple of really cool action sequences. My time wasn’t completely wasted at least. D+
X-men: Days of Future Past– It took a while for the X-men franchise to bring itself out of the deep dark pit it flung itself down with The Last Stand and Origins: Wolverine. Yes, both First Class and The Wolverine showed sings that the brand was moving in a more positive direction, but with Days of Future past, I can honestly say that the movies are back where they should be, quality wise. Days of Future Past may have a few logical snafus, but there’s so much about that film that perfect, that I barely noticed. The acting is exceptionally well done, especially from James McAvoy and Jennifer Lawrence, and the characters’ journeys are so compelling. On a shallower note, its clear that a lot of the new X-men were chosen for their highly visual power sets, and the results- from Blink’s portal powers to Quicksliver’s super speed, are just so cool to look at. Days of Future Past effectively reinvents the X-men franchise and does a fabulous job setting up the next installment. A-
On DVD (from the library)
Orphan Black (Season 1)– I feel like I do a horrible job at selling this show to people, which is a pity because it’s pretty outstanding. Focusing on a small time hustler who discovers that she’s one of many clones, Orphan Black simply does so much right. First off, there’s Tatiana Maslany’s fabulous acting. She has the demanding job of portraying several different characters, and pulls off each one flawlessly (thanks in part to a really impressive job done on hair and makeup). Each episode is wonderfully paced; chock full of excellent suspense and surprises, but never to the point of feeling overloaded. I am eager to see if they can keep the quality of this show up in season two. There wasn’t a single bad episode in season one. A
Star Trek: The Next Generation: Season 5– It feels strange to review the whole season, as Tanner and I have been watching it on and off for a while now. Still, we watch the final eight episodes this month, so I might as well talk about it here. Watching The Next Generation is interesting, because it shows how our expectations for television have changed over the years. It’s true that the season features some of the most memorable episodes in Star Trek history, which hold up impressively well, over twenty years later. But, in order to get to such great moments as “I, Borg,” “The Next Phase,” and “The Inner Light,” you need to get through the dull as toast “Imaginary Friend” and the painfully bad “The Perfect Mate.” It makes me wonder if we used to be a little more forgiving of our TV shows. One or two bad episodes aren’t that a big of a deal after all, and the show is head and shoulders above what it used to be in season 1. I’m certainly planning on watching season six. The finale did end on a bit of a cliffhanger after all. B
Agents of SHIELD– This month, I watched the final three episodes of season one of SHIELD, Nothing Personal, Ragtag, and the Beginning of the End. I need to applaud the writing team for successfully keeping the quality up in the final block of episodes this season, because it was looking shaky for a while now. The finale does a fabulous job of wrapping up several plot threads, while leaving just enough dangling to keep the audience excited for more (who is Skye’s father? What state if Fitz in? What was Coulson really writing on that wall?). The whole season gets a B from me, but these final episodes are all straight As.
Castle– Now why’d you have to do that Castle? I was so on board with your penultimate episode. To finally see Beckett achieve some justice for her mother’s murder, a plot line that’s been going on for SIX SEASONS now, was just so satisfying. And then, you throw us the finale. Not only did the episode feel kind of throwaway-ish, but to delay the wedding you’ve been setting up all season!? Gah. Just, gah! At least Beckett got a nicer wedding dress. B for the whole season.