Review: Captain America: Civil War (2016)

Civil War 3I’m a huge super-hero fan and one of my first introductions into actually reading comics was the Civil War event. The political stand-off and the idea that heroes could disagree and fight against each other in such a grand way, disagreeing over basic beliefs, was enticing to me. So, of course, I’m excited to see them try something similar in the MCU. Though, there is no way they can replicate the true scale of the crossover; I think that Captain America: Civil War has touched on something remarkable in the interaction of its heroes that makes this movie shine, even if the source material’s depth was hard to live up to.

The action in this movie was visceral and intense. The film allowed the heroes to use their powers and abilities to the fullest. Even from the start, we saw some awesome combo attacks and a wide range of new abilities and intense action scenes that are absolutely the best in the genre so far, and as the film progressed it only got better. In terms of action, if you were upset by the slow pace and low choreography of some other superhero films, this is definitely not an area where Civil War will disappoint. Continue reading

Review: House of Cards, Seasons 1-2

hocThis is a big show. I’ve heard about it from many sources before I started, and I must admit that the hype did not prepare me in the slightest. I believe this is one of the most amazing political shows since The West Wing, though I wouldn’t say it shares the tone or optimism of Aaron Sorkin’s classic. Quite the contrary, this is a bleak look at American politics that takes your idea of what politics and personal morality is an twists it into a system where only perception matters. However, no matter how absurd the plots and politics get I can’t deny the genuine portrayal of corruption in both what a character could be and what a person could be made to be comfortable with. This is a show which allows you the chance to truly relate with devils, and I can’t praise the acting and the writers enough. Continue reading

Review: Supergirl, Season 1

SupergirlAs a fan of all things superhero, it’s no surprise I picked up Supergirl when it came time for her TV debut. The show has some things going for it. It’s cute and the characters are enjoyable, but it isn’t thick on deeper content and struggles on a more meaningful level. I think the show takes its family friendly vibe a bit too seriously and could stand to pull a few of the cliched flowers out of its climactic dialogue.

When I started this show, I immediately fell in love with Kara. She does cute and awkward as good as the best of them and I immediately related to her want to be something more than her adorable but mild-mannered life. But that is the only character I can say I have real feelings for, all the character work done in Supergirl gives you real attachment to the characters. Even though there are many cliche’s interwoven into the dialogue, I find myself smiling through the cringe even in these moments and really rooting for a top quality cast. Continue reading

Review: Daredevil, Season 2

Daredevil Season 2This one didn’t quite make it there. I’ve seen only good reviews coming off this product, but, even when they do look at some negatives, I just don’t know if people know what makes a superhero story great anymore. Now I don’t want you to get the wrong idea: this season had some great moments. However, it suffers from following two disjointed plotlines and fails to deliver some of the integral parts of a good hero story, namely, a compelling villain.

This season focuses on two major plotlines, as we already knew from the previews. The Punisher headlines the first story with his bloody rampage across the gangs of New York, and Electra is the star of the second major plot of the season involving the overly-menacing and unnecessarily faceless organization, The Hand. For the first five episodes or so, the Punisher has his day in the spotlight, and I believe this to be the definitive live-action version of the character. I loved his visceral fighting style, and his relationship with Daredevil as it conflicts especially with the Catholic backing of Daredevil’s convictions was especially interesting. They manage to make a three-dimensional and likeable character out of John Bernthal while at the same time demonizing the gruesome murder that he leaves in his wake. This balance made it so that I didn’t want this conflict in the show to end. Sadly that wasn’t the case. Continue reading

10 Reasons Why BATMAN V SUPERMAN is a Fantastic Movie

Batman Superman

THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS.

Many reviews of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice seem to forget one fact: Zack Snyder has a distinct directorial style. As I’ve noted before, anyone who buys a ticket for any film by the director of 300 and Sucker Punch—which includes Batman v Superman—and is offended by the lack of subtlety and Loki-style humor has not considered Snyder’s reputation as a director.

A director’s signature style matters. I would not see a Tarantino movie if I wanted a kid-friendly romantic comedy; I would not expect a film by Sam Mendes to highlight the positive qualities of suburbia; and I would not look for Spaceballs-style comedy in an Iñárritu film. Zack Snyder was never going to allow Batman v Superman to look or feel like Joss Whedon’s lighthearted and arguably formulaic Avengers films.

Below are ten reasons why Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is an entertaining and impressive movie.

1. The Opening Scenes

Critics enjoy mocking the excessiveness of Superman’s Metropolis-based battle against Zod in Man of Steel. Shortly after the movie premiered, the hazard-assessment team at Watson Technical Consulting quantified the damage. According to the team, “in terms of the strictly physical damage done to the city, the initial estimate is $700 billion.” And the death count is equally striking: “129,000 known killed, over 250,000 missing (most of whom would have also died), and nearly a million injured.” Many moviegoers look at these numbers with disgust.

So does Batman. Continue reading

Review: Victoria (2015), or “Help Me, Alessia Cara!”

VictoriaVictoria opens with strobe lights, club music, and bathroom graffiti. The first few minutes of the film feel like a particularly intoxicating blend of A Night at the Roxbury and Gaspar Noé’s Enter the Void. Victoria, a young Spanish girl played by Laia Costa, dances her way through a crowd and is quickly harassed by several “real Berlin” guys. This is when the film becomes frustrating to watch.

Despite their reprehensible, arguably predatory moments early in the film, the “real Berlin” guys—primarily Sonne, Boxer, and Blinker—induct Victoria into their close-knit, Trainspotting-style group. Sonne and Victoria begin to develop a relationship, and all seems well in this hazy late-night version of Berlin—until Boxer needs a favor. Then this one-shot film becomes a blur of guns, lights, and muffled dialogue.

Like a dark, more visceral version of Whit Stillman’s The Last Days of Disco, Victoria’s story questions the necessity of maturity. Though, as a character, Victoria has strength and courage, she possesses a sort of self-aware naïveté, a seemingly conscious willingness to allow the forces around her to guide her actions. The fact that this film is a single continuous take enhances the idea that Victoria’s life is one steady stream of pressures and obligations—she never has a moment to reflect. In this way, Victoria is more relatable than many films: there are no cuts, no blackouts, no second attempts. The audience can analyze how the ugly minutiae of every moment impacts Victoria’s spirit. Continue reading

The Most Intriguing TV Opening Credit Sequences

DaredevilNetflix assumes that I want to skip opening credit sequences, which isn’t true. Yes, Netflix, I have been binge-watching Marvel’s Daredevil for the past six hours, but I still want to see the melting maroon wax (or blood?) statue of Lady Justice turn slowly as the eerie cadence of high notes fights with the low, booming bass sounds that slowly intensify beneath them. It gets me in the mood.

A title sequence is an emotional trigger, and I appreciate the opportunity to mentally prepare myself for the narrative that follows. This article contains an analysis of some of the more musically intriguing and visually engaging opening sequences. Obviously, some opening credit sequences, like those of The Simpsons and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, are well-established classics, so I will not discuss those below. Other title sequences feature brilliant theme music but do not offer much in terms of visuals, like those of Firefly and Battlestar Galactica. Even the simple melodies of shows like Scrubs and Gilmore Girls work well as triggers of nostalgia and empathy, but they will not appear below.

Other classic intro sequences that will not be discussed here: the concise opening of The Twilight Zone, the friendly notes of Cheers, the mission statement of Star Trek, the Big History explanations of The Big Bang Theory, and the catchy expositional songs of The Brady Bunch and Gilligan’s Island.

Dexter Continue reading