Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Year So Far

For two months I haven't posted anything new on here, so I might as well post to reflect on things.

"Game Of Thrones" is on it's fourth season. There was much rejoicing all over when King Joffrey finally bit the dust two episodes in. And it was just the death that little shit deserved: completely out of left field, undignified, without glory, and mourned by no one except his mother. After such a strong second episode, I was worried the season would take a huge step backwards into second season quality when they had Jaime attempt to rape Cersei (which goes completely against Jaime's character development in the books and is really something Cersei was more likely to pull than Jaime) and they pulled "the misunderstanding" cliche between Tyrion and Shae, but Peter Dinklage came through and saved the day last weekend with one of his finest performances to date. Also, Littlefinger finally came out and showed himself as the chessmaster of the entire plot that it was obvious that he was, and we got to see the Night's King, who hasn't even debuted in the books yet!

"Once Upon A Time" aired the second half of it's third season and finished the "Wonderland" spin-off story. Compared to the Neverland arc of the first half of Season 3, which ended in a game-changer, this half's storyline was weak in comparison. I liked how Emma, Henry, Storybrooke, and all the characters came back into the picture, I liked how everyone was bonding together rather than going at each other's throats, I liked how they had some episodes that were plot-heavy but then some that took it easier and allowed time for breathers, I liked Regina's continuing character development into a hero, I liked how they handled Rumpelstiltkin's return since bringing him back at all after the conclusion of his arc was worrisome, and I really like Hook: he's clearly a better, more likable character and love interest for Emma than (the late) Neal could ever be. And yet, these good things couldn't quite come together since there were so many problems in their way. The land of Oz wasa let-down, being not all that distinguishable from the Enchanted Forest. The missing year in the Enchanted Forest itself wasn't delved into quite enough. Regina and Robin Hood were strangled by the red string as a couple. While I liked the character of Zelena and how Rebecca Mader portrayed her, she was way too problematic as a villain in terms of writing, and was nowhere near as great a villain as Peter Pan had been in the first half. The resolution of this big mystery story being told was underwhelming, with the season finale being a 2-hour "Back To The Future"-style movie that barely connected with the story that had led to it. And while I feel the show narrowly avoided jumping the shark back in the last stretch of season two with the antics of crazy Regina and those idiots, Greg and Tamara, I can actually see "Emma dates a flying monkey" as the actual shark-jump moment. I don't think the show's gone *bad* yet, but...just read that statement of the moment to yourself and try to not think it's a stretch too far into absurdity. The arc wasn't terrible, but overall kind of a dud.

"Wonderland", on the other hand, wrapped up it's story in the five episodes that aired in the early spring, and it was fantastic. The story got even better in retrospect once certain details came to light and many things came back into play. The character arc for Anastasia was absolutely engrossing, making her the best developed character on the cast. But the rest of the cast, Alice, Will, Cyrus, the White Rabbit, and the rest all got their moments to shine once more, and Jafar was just a perfectly handled villain, staying heartless, barbaric, and detestable in how pure evil he is to the very end, with Naveen Andrews owning the role the whole while. This story, along with the Dark Curse Saga of the mother show's first season, might show that Adam and Eddy's biggest strength is in well thought-out, cohesive one-season narratives with plots and characters that don't wear out their welcome. But that said, I do like the approach for the show they've settled on and hope it gets better over time.

"Pokemon XY" has not been too good. The games sucked exactly as I knew they would: everything about them was a mess that shoves the obvious shark jump of the franchise in our faces, with the post-game sidequest about Looker and Emma being the only truly well done thing in the games. They're also pandering to nostalgic fans even further by announcing remakes of the Gen III games, after a remake-free generation already passed by. And the XY anime series has just been horrid. Not only did Ash, Pikachu, and Team Rocket's involvement in the anime clearly reach it's limit in BW, but this anime took a step back into the old formula, being about as bad as DP on it's better days, even worse than it on the rest. There's no drive, no plot, no good character development, no real sense of excitement and interest, and Serena is up there with Solidad, Paul, and Cameron in abominations of characters that the anime has given us. It feels so artificial and phoned in now. It's almost zombie like: living on past it's expiration, even though it should just die. The biggest insult was that Mega Evolution special, which gave us a different protagonist, different characters, a different mood, and a true sense of plot - basically the XY anime we should have gotten. But nooo, they had to play it safe! The XY arc of the "Pokemon Special" manga has been the only part of this generation that's been surprisingly really decent, but even then I think I'd rather be seeing that B2W2 arc wrap up instead.

I discovered a new anime called "Kill La Kill" just as it was finishing it's run. It's by the same makers as "Gurren Laggan", and like that series, it's a dumb, goofy, ridiculous and fun anime-satire story that rarely takes itself too seriously (the actions of the Big Bad, Ragyo Kiryuin, being the exception) and features a cast that are pinnacles of manliness, the twist here being that it's a mostly female cast.
I have to say that I find it to be somewhat better than "Gurren Laggan". It's first half is similar in tone to "Gurren Laggan's" beginning phase, while it's second half is similar in tone to it's middle. It never goes into the up-it's-own-ass downer that was the post-timeskip arc, keeping the right balance of
tone at all times. I found Ryuko Matoi, Satsuki Kiryuin, Mako Mankanshoku, and Nui Harime to be particularly good characters, and yes, I like Nonon too. But hey - what was up with that shirt's death?

"Sailor Moon Crystal" has finally been announced. It's a new anime reboot of "Sailor Moon" that will stick closer to the original manga's story that the first anime did. Whether or not it will go beyond the Dark Kingdom arc is unknown at the moment. It's coming out in summer, and I can't wait to see it. And not only will it get an English dub, but they're finally giving the original anime a new, accurate dub ala "DBZ Kai!" Pinch me, I must be dreaming! But this also means we'll get a dub of "Stars".

Still no Book 3 of "The Legend Of Korra" in sight, though I suspect we'll be seeing it in summer or autumn. After the tremendous ratings bomb that was Book 2 (which had a horrendous first half, but a solid second half following the excellent "Beginnings" one-hour film), it could be that Nickelodeon has lost faith in the show, not that I blame them. Still, words from the composer and other writers on the staff suggest that Book 3, "Change", is designed to fix a lot of the show's problems and go back to a quality in storytelling, characterization, and emotion more on par with "Avatar: The Last Airbender" or at least how this show was in Book 1. Bryan Konietzko has also admitted that the romance angle in the show didn't go over well with fans and so they're dropping Korra's love life from focus at long last. While I still have no faith in that asshole, I do want to have faith in Mike and the others, and hope that they can actually pull this off. We have half a show left, so it's not too late to change. (Ha Ha.)

I only occasionally watch "Adventure Time", but I feel that the recent fifth season sort of made the show lose itself early into it due to the sudden departure of Larry Leichliter as the regular episode director. The season itself went on way too long, and the show is now kind of a mess due to the inconsistent tone, characterization, humor, and direction. The "Lemonhope" story that the season ended on and the story with Finn meeting has father than opened up the newest season renewed my faith that the show's not completely gone, but it still needs work or it'll go the way of "Spongebob."

I've seen "My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic" even less than I've seen "Adventure Time" (Yes, you can blame that on the internet hype and the fucking bronies...), but the fact that, on top of having a season-long story arc and making the always entertaining Discord a recurring character, they brought in a new version of Lord Tirek from the franchise's original TV specials for the fourth season's finale caught my interest. While this Tirek sadly wasn't as malevolent and creepy as the original, he did live up to his own hype, easily being the most evil and menacing villain they could possibly put on a show primarily aimed at children. He got beaten by a magic friendship rainbow again, which is more epic than it sounds, especially since it sends him right back to Hell...err, Tartarus. With the way this finale ended, I am so convinced they would have been better off ending this show right here.

"The Nostalgia Critic", sadly, still isn't any better after jumping the shark with his resurrection last year. In the show's new style, it is extremely inconsistent. For every good review like "Face/Off", "Alice In Wonderland", "Disney Afternoon", and "Swan Princess", there are underwhelming or crappy ones like "Wicker Man", "Ghost Dad", "Foodfight!", or "The Lorax." I still say I liked him better dead!

I don't care how TV Tropes is doing these days. I've found a much better version HERE & HERE.

"The Hobbit: Desolation Of Smaug" was a mediocre film. The biggest issue I have is that I can just tell that this film was getting padded out to no end with action scenes and romantic bullshit with the Kili/Tauriel/Legolas love triangle because it was not meant to be the second installment in a trilogy. "The Hobbit" was meant to carry two films: "An Unexpected Journey" and "There And Back Again". Whatever Andrew Jackson might claim happened, I know that it was executive greed from WB that forced him into making another trilogy, "An Unexpected Journey", "The Desolation Of Smaug", and "The Battle Of Five Armies" instead. This explains why the first movie was just about perfect as it is, but these next two suffer. The pace of the Murkwood scenes goes by faster than the pace of the rest Too much time was spent at the elves' place, during the barrel-riding action scene, at Laketown, Gandalf's investigation of the Necromancer, and that complete filler fight against Smaug that doesn't end up killing him anyway. The thing that no one disputes is the saving grace is, of course, Smaug himself. Smaug was PERFECT. They could not have given him a better design and voice. But he didn't require a presence in two movies. I'm left worrying on how they're going to pad the last one out.

"The LEGO Movie" was, as anyone could tell you, AWESOME. Anyone with a creative mind who loves good straightforward stories that mix different characters and situations together owe it to themselves to see this film. People who suffer from self-esteem issues owe it to themselves to see this film. People who love LEGOs, or Batman, or any of the actors involved owe it to themselves to see this film. And anyone who just wants to have fun watching a fun movie will enjoy this film. Since
I match all of those, it was right up my alley. One of the year's most surprising and successful films.

The MCU came back in full force with "Captain America: The Winter Soldier", a film that's just about as great as "The Avengers" was. Too bad it's events had to also tie into "Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D", which was better this year than it was last year, but that's still not saying much. At all. I liked that Coulson's character got back on the right track, I liked Jamie Alexander guest starring as Sif that one time, I liked the involvement of HYDRA, and the finale that aired yesterday had it's moments - especially seeing Ward get brought down like the ass-turd that he is, and Samuel L Jackson's Nick Fury as a guest star. But there are still problems - a ton of problems. I still cannot seriously believe that Skye's real name is Mary Sue Poots. I mean, what was even the logic behind that decision? To make her less of a Mary Sue, or to reinforce that she is one? And of course she's related to a future Big Bad! Heaven forbid we have Coulson and other agents take the spotlight completely in the finale!

Spider-Man is still a crap franchise, as it has been since "The Spectacular Spider-Man" got unfairly cancelled. Peter finally gets his body back from Otto Octavius in the comics, which is too little too late at this point. "Ultimate Spider-Man" is getting more episodes even though everyone knows it's utter crap that has little to do with Spider-Man at all. And "The Amazing Spider-Man 2"...y'know, despite it being the most critically panned and least profitable "Spider-Man" film to date, I'm actually not going to say it totally sucked. I thought it was exactly on par with the first installment of this reboot - average. It fixed some of the problems I had with the last one (Spidey's costume, Spidey's character, Gwen's role, Aunt May, better action scenes and CGI visuals, answers to questions, no dumbass origin story in the way, etc.) but then dumped out a bunch of new problems at the same time. The script was shit, the narrative was all over the place with too many characters and plot elements, the overfocus on Peter's parents and the build-up to the Sinister Six is dumb as heck, there was no Mary Jane since her filmed scenes got cut from the film altogether, Gwen's inevitable death was underwhelming, and good lord do these movies not know how to do villains right. Kurt Connors and Harry Osborn were both more interesting characters before they turn into these one-dimensional supervillains with bullshit motives and plans, Max Dillon/Electro and Dr. Kafka were just Joel Schumacher levels of embarrassingly campy (the former being a cross between Riddler and Mr. Freeze, the other being more over-the-top than Dr. Woodrue), Tex Richman Norman Osborn was a waste of a character, and I give no shits about the Gentleman. Unlike some opinions I've read, I am actually going to say that this was easily weaker than "Spider-Man 3", cause it lacked any heart to it.  Kurtzman and Orci are hacks who should be banned from writing scripts, and these movies made by Sony's greed fail so hard.

"Godzilla" and "X-Men: Days Of Futures Past" are coming out around the same time, and I need to wait and see which one of them is better received by early viewers so I'll know what to go see first.

The movie I am NOT looking forward to is the one coming out at the end of the month -"Maleficent." Whenever I see anything from the film, it looks amazing. Whenever I hear anything about the film, I get physically ill. It hurts me, and I actually feel like crying on the inside. Angelina Jolie looks and sounds perfect in the role of Maleficent and I actually quite liked the idea of delving into her origins because the film could give her a Lucifer-style fall from grace, how she went from a regular winged fairy to a dark fairy who is essentially the Devil incarnate - the Mistress Of All Evil. Follow that backstory with a live action reenactment of the "Sleeping Beauty" story but from Maleficent's perspective, ultimately leading to her demise, and you'd have a great movie. But what are we getting instead? A story that not only completely butchers Maleficent's character and makes her out to be a pure-hearted saint whose heart was only temporarily darkened by circumstances that devastated her, but one that butchers the story and spirit of the original story and characters by having almost nothing to do with said story. A realm of fairies at war with humans, where Princess Aurora is the special snowflake destined to bring peace and redeem Maleficent's soul with the power of love? What the fuck is this crap? That wasn't in the Disney movie at all! And worse is how it "subverts" black and white morality by making Maleficent misunderstood and good while King Stephan and the three good fairies are evil, mean, baddy-bad guys. Urrr, NO: that's not making things any more complex than they were before. It just makes things stupid. And Maleficent doesn't even turn into a dragon: her raven sidekick does! WHAT THE HELL? You're taking one of the most iconic things about the character of Maleficent and give it to someone else? YOU. FAIL. But worst of all is that Disney is deliberately marketing this movie by making Maleficent look as evil as we expect her to be. They have to know that her all consuming wickedness is what her fans love most about it, so this is their way of selling the film to them and setting them up for colossal disappointment when it turns out not at all what they expect, but they'll have already paid to see it. It's the ultimate rip-off and a rage-inducing letdown waiting to happen. It's Tim Burton's "Alice In Underland" all over again. If this isn't pissing all over Walt Disney's grave, then it's doing something even worse to it, and Linda Woolverton should join Kurtzman and Orci in getting banned from script writing. Way to ruin a classic story and villain, guys!

Oh, and a few noteworthy people passed away this year. James Avery, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Michael Ansara, Shirley Temple, Justin Carmical, Bob Hoskins, Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Fred Phelps, etc. I'm still very saddened that we lost Avery, Hoffman, and Hoskins since they left us sooner than they should have, and I hope they rest in peace. The deaths of Ansara, Temple, and Zimbalist Jr. don't sadden me at all, though. I feel when people die in at 80's or 90's, their deaths should not be mourned so much as their lives should be celebrated, for they lived long, fulfilling lives and died of natural causes in their old age. The suicide of Justin (JewWario) is something I am still never going to understand or get over. And as for Fred Phelps...he's is Hell now. That's all I'll be saying of him.

2 comments:

  1. What did you think about Pokemon Origins?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That came out last year. I really enjoyed it - probably my number 1 favorite Pokemon special now.

      Delete