The Life & Times of an Auteur.

Commentary on Pop Culture, and maybe creating some of my own.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The End of the Year


So here we are, 2013 came and went and while it might not have been the best year for this blog, it was, overall, a good year. After eight years, Season Two Volume Two of  "Gargoyles" finally came out, if you haven't bought it yet, go get it. I moved, I'm planning a new strategy to pursue my career and I am hopeful for a better 2014. I also learned that President Obama has the same taste in television that I do.

"Tarantino Month" which became "Tarantino Summer" which became "Tarantino Year" was a total bust because, well, I wasn't feeling it this year. Aside from the fact that I was very busy this year, busier than I've been in a long time, I just wasn't often in the mood to blog when I did have free time. I have no excuse, since I prefer to do the things I say I'm going to do, and for that I apologize. I could say that I plan to do more blogging this year than last, but I'm not sure if I'll have the time or the spark when I do have the time. But if I have something to say about a movie or a TV show, I'll post.

In the mean time, here's my year end review. Some of the grades may have changed since initial reviews (if there was an initial review) due to time and distance.

MOVIES

Berserk: Golden Age Arc II - Battle for Doldrey
- An enjoyable second adaptation of Kentaro Miura's manga. The animation is great, the direction is perfect. But that dance sequence near the end of the movie goes on for way too long and I feel that the time spent could have been used on better material. Grade: B

The Butler - A nice little movie whose heart was in the right place, but questionable casting and moments inappropriately played for laughs lead me to just writing it off as an entertaining and harmless diversion. Grade: B

The Hobbit The Desolation of Smaug - Overall, I loved the movie. I didn't love some of the studio forced "additions", and I felt the pacing was off, but those were hardly deal breakers. Grade: A-

Iron Man 3 - A fun movie but very controversial throughout comicdom, and for good reason. While the Mandarin was never my favorite, I think I would have enjoyed a traditional Mandarin more than what we got. Not that what we got was a bad movie. Grade: B

Man of Steel - Do I need to say more about this than I have already? Non-existent characterization, mixed with disaster porn that exploited 9/11 imagery in a manner so gaudy and classless, it was like watching the third Transformers movie again. I didn't think it was possible to make a Superman movie worse than "Superman Returns" but Snyder and Nolan showed us the way. Grade: F

Much Ado About Nothing - My favorite film of the year. Smart, witty, sexy, and a nice re-telling of William Shakespeare's classic comedy, and all in Joss Whedon's house. Grade: A+

Pain and Gain - It's Michael Bay, what did I expect? Honestly, I expected the worst movie of the year and I didn't quite get that. Still... Grade: F

Star Trek Into Darkness - A terrible movie made by a mediocre director, and the ultimate result of what happens when you bring someone into a franchise who admits to outright hating it. I like Benedict Cumberbatch as much as the next guy, but he was terrible in the role made famous by Ricardo Montalban. Laughably stupid (and not even funny), and the most unpleasant movie viewing experience of the year. Grade: F

Thor: The Dark World - A fun sequel, far from perfect, but a perfectly good time. Hemsworth and Hiddleston still own their roles. Grade: B

Twelve Years A Slave - This is going to be nominated for Best Picture. A brutal film based on a true story about a free man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery. I can't say I had a good time watching it, but I'm glad I did see it. Grade: A+

Zero Dark Thirty - This was my pick to win Best Picture last year. Not that "Argo" was a bad movie, but ZDT was better, and it really stays with you. The questions it raises, the depiction of our sins will haunt you for a long time. Grade: A+

TELEVISION


Agents of SHIELD - It fails on every level. The writing is hilariously bad, the acting is embarrassingly mediocre (I've seen better in softcore porn). The relationship between Ward and Skye makes Edward and Bella on "Twilight" look sophisticated by comparison. There are many shows I dislike, but few enter this level of loathing. It's down there with "Family Guy" for me. I hate to be that guy, but I am hoping for the swift cancellation of this failed experiment. This series is outright disgusting, the most unpleasant thing I've viewed in years. Grade: F

Avengers Assemble - I only watched the first part of the pilot, but my overall opinion has not changed. They killed a great "Avengers" cartoon to bring us this thing. The most I can give it is that it's not as bad as "Ultimate Spider-Man". Another TV series executive produced by Jeph Loeb that receives a Grade: F

Breaking Bad - A show that I resisted, but several people I respect recommended it to me, and after a month passed and the finale was still unspoiled, I binge-watched it and found a show that more than lived up to the hype, it exceeded it. Sometimes my opinion cools on things, but this still ranks as one of the greatest TV shows I have ever watched, if not the greatest. Grade: A+

Dexter
- The final season was a let down on every level. It started with potential and quickly squandered it. The final episode nearly saved it, but ultimately a decree from Showtime that the title character could not be killed off was the final stake in the heart. While I can be glad that we've had five great seasons, this season was terrible. Grade: F

Downton Abbey
- I just started watching the third season, and I'm enjoying this show immensely. Ensemble pieces are hard, especially with a cast this large. But it captures the time period perfectly, with a focus on several well rounded and very likable characters. Grade: A+

Dr. Who - I'm limping my way through this, I just finished the Christopher Eccleston season, and started David Tenant's. While I am enjoying it, and I can definitely see why people like it, I can't say I understand the pandemonium in the nerd community for it. Sometimes it gets too hokey for me, but there have been some great episodes so far, and I'm willing to stick it out and find out what draws people in. So, the only honest grade I can give it at the moment is Grade: Incomplete

Game of Thrones - Another show I resisted, and another show I fell in love with. This is great TV, and the best genre show I have seen in ages. The critics love it, and for good reason. Like "The Lord of the Rings", "Game of Thrones" is a truly transcendent experience. Spectacularly intelligent, never talking down to the audience. I can't wait to see what comes next. Grade: A+

How I Met Your Mother
- I have not watched a network television sitcom since "Frasier" ended. HIMYM is a lot of fun, the writing is sharp. The characters are quirky and likable. I watched it all on Netflix over the course of a month and I now watch the final season as it airs. It entertains me, I usually laugh a few times per episode, and I look forward to seeing how it ends. Grade: A

The Legend of Korra
- I've written at length about this show, so I'll be brief. Horrible beginning, meh middle and a horrible end. One of the worst animated series that I have ever watched.  Grade: F

Supernatural
- A fun diversion that is carried by a great cast, and a production team who are all clearly having a good time. It does way more than "Agents of SHIELD" does with a fraction of the budget. But it has a lot of heart and soul. Proof that network dramas aren't beyond saving. While the earlier seasons are better than the latter seasons (and season seven was a turd), I continue to enjoy it. Grade: A-

The Venture Bros
- This show is always a treat. We might have to wait a long time between seasons, but what we get is one of the most well written and consistently funny animated shows of all time. "Batman", "Gargoyles" and "Venture Bros" are the trifecta, and this season did not disappoint. Can't wait to see what happens next. Grade: A+

Young Justice: Invasion
- Probably the best DC animated series since "Batman: The Animated Series", and another show that was taken from us way too soon. While I thought the series often had trouble balancing its very large cast, I still enjoyed it greatly and miss it. While not as strong as "Gargoyles" or "The Spectacular Spider-Man", it was still a top notch show. Grade: A-

16 comments:

  1. Mostly agree with the movie reviews.

    The Butler-I was eager to see it and ultimately disappointed. I would give it a "C".

    Man of Steel--Dreadful movie. Quite dreary.

    Star Trek Into Darkness--My friend and I dozed in the middle of it. Not a good sign.

    Twelve Years a Slave--Hopefully it'll be released soon where I live.

    I love Game of Thrones. I read the first book. I'm about 1/4 through the second book.

    I'm also pleased the Commander in Chief likes Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad and not Duck Dynasty or Honey Boo Boo.

    Everyone I know personally gave up on Agents of Shield. I tried to be stout of heart, but even I gave up after 4 episodes.

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  2. "I can't say I understand the pandemonium in the nerd community for it."

    Part of it is being a revival (and a continuation rather than a remake) of the show that ran from 1963-1989 (with a movie in 1996), the longest-running scifi show in history. The original long-runner before The X-Files, Stargate or Supernatural. Doctor Who is literally a British institution, you see. And while I don't think either Davies's or Moffat's run as head writer has been completely perfect (although in Davies's case, my only complaints are in his last specials), the show has been in good hands since its revival.

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  3. I agree with most of what you said regarding the movies. Though, I would argue it was more of David Goyer's fault for the terrible movie that was Man of Steel than it was Nolan's or even Snyder's. Happy New Year!

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    1. Uh huh. You do understand that a producer and director can order re-writes of a script, right? They are also responsible for what ends up on screen.

      *Has a degree in movie producing*

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  4. You have a point. I'm not as well-versed in film production as you are. I just hope Ben Affleck will direct one of the DC movies (at least his screenwriter for Argo is rewriting Supes/Bat). Snyder is a director that I feel has talent but is not a great director. Though, I feel Goyer isn't a great writer either way. Similar to Abrams not having a passion for Trek, I remember hearing Goyer never cared for Superman that much. Even though there are people that dislike Superman, which is understandable even though I am a fan, the studio should've created a much better creative team for this movie. Greg, what superhero would you like to make a movie out of other than Spider-man?

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  5. I'll be updating the list by the time I see Her and The Wolf of Wall Street but my personal favorites include (and by release order),

    Oz The Great and Powerful
    Spring Breakers
    Pain & Gain
    Iron Man 3
    Fast & Furious 6
    The Heat
    Pacific Rim
    Blue Jasmine
    You're Next
    The World's End
    Gravity
    About Time
    The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
    Frozen
    American Hustle
    Inside Llewyn Davis

    I would have put Much Ado About Nothing or The Bling Ring but with the former, my local theater didn't have it. The other one I was too late for. And a couple of things, I disagree about The Mandarin thing, it would have been too easy to include the actual character, too obvious. The twist was clever anyway. And if you're watching Doctor Who, I recommend the classic stories; start with Tom Baker.

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    1. Oz The Great and Powerful - I saw part of this while at Walmart. The words "Hell" and "No" come to mind.

      Fast & Furious 6 - You couldn't pay me.

      Pacific Rim - Wanted to see it, missed it.

      The World's End - See above.
      Gravity - Ditto.

      The Hunger Games: Catching Fire - No interest.

      Frozen - Want to see it.

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    2. It's funny, I actually prefer Oz the Great and Powerful to the original film. Mind you, that statement is now ironically considering both films have feminist themes to them from what I've told about L. Frank Baum's work. (Never had an interest reading the books for the record.)

      Fast and Furious 6, you'd be surprised that even people who never liked the franchise to begin with loved it. I had a blast. I'm looking forward to the seventh film. Mind you, I liked the fifth and even the third films but need to see the rest. It's funny, I can like these films yet I like Annie Hall and Hannah and Her Sisters. I'm very diverse really.

      You'd enjoy Pacific Rim and The World's End, fantastic movies. You'd have a lot of fun watching them. Although I'm surprised you didn't see Gravity, I pretty much thought you'd have seen it already but oh well, that's what the Blu-Ray release is for.

      Catching Fire, again, you'd be surprised. Jennifer Lawrence is still the best and it had the same effect on me as I read the book; better than the original.

      Oh, and Frozen; definitely see it. It's still in theaters, if it wasn't for The Hobbit; it'd be number one at the box office instead of number two. I mean, try to get to a screening early if you can because I was lucky enough to find a seat.

      Plus, Elsa and Anna are awesome. Not to mention Olaf is actually funny.

      Oh, and worst movie of 2013 for me? Epic. At least Man of Steel, Star Trek Into Darkness and Kick-Ass 2 had interesting ideas. The keyword being HAD.

      It isn't a matter of effort, it's just that-here's the thing, Epic is generic. It's bland, the comic relief annoyed the hell out of me, the heroes and villains are boring, what is there to say?

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  6. The Hobbit - Enjoyed the first one more, but I loved the last act of the film with Smaug. Smaug was pure perfection.

    Iron Man - I just wish Killian could have actually had ten powerful rings.

    Man Of Steel - I was always kinder to "Superman Returns" than I probably should be. But now, I think I'll be even kinder to it just because it's not this shit.

    Much Ado About Nothing - Proof that you can make an expertly made movie in your own house and not just a home video.

    Star Trek Into Darkness: Wait, JJ hates Star Trek? That explains so much about the lack of effort. And I thought Benedict's performance was fine: I just didn't like it that he was Khan rather than just a new villain like he seemed to be at first. That was a really poor choice.

    Thor: The Dark World: I enjoyed it too, but I personally preferred the first one. Maybe the lack of screen time for Sif and the Asgard Warriors in this one just bugged me too much.

    Agents Of SHIELD: The ultimate letdown. How does Joss give us "Much Ado About Nothing" and THIS in the same year?

    Breaking Bad - I need to see this one.

    Dexter - The tacked-on ending of Dexter's survival being literally tacked on does not surprise me at all.

    Game Of Thrones - The third season was a step up from the second, mainly 'cause Robb and Daenerys' plots didn't suck this time around.

    The Legend Of Korra: Book Two was like the reverse of Book One, a let down at the start but stronger by the end. Yeah, the final stretch had it's faults but at least the plot wasn't the awfulness of the first 6 episodes and the titular protagonist freaking grew up finally.

    Young Justice: Invasion: I preferred the first season. The cast was too ridiculously big by this point and I was underwhelmed by the finale, particularly the bullshit Connor/M'Gann getting back together thing.

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    1. "Agents Of SHIELD: The ultimate letdown. How does Joss give us "Much Ado About Nothing" and THIS in the same year?"

      Because his involvement is at a bare minimum. His less talented brother and sister-in-law, Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen, are the showrunners.

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    2. OH. That explains a whole lot!

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    3. "particularly the bullshit Connor/M'Gann getting back together thing"

      According to Greg Weisman, what we saw in the finale was not official.

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  7. Anything announced for 2014 that you're looking forward to? My hopes are for the final Hobbit film, Captain America: Winter Soldier, and the new Godzilla, and I really haven't paid much attention to movie announcements so I don't know about many others.

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  8. Off-topic, but since you've mentioned Harlan Ellison's original plans for the Star Trek episode "City on the Edge of Forever", I thought this might interest you:

    http://thetaylornetworkofpodcasts.com/2014/03/06/city-on-the-edge-of-forever-miniseries-coming-to-idw/

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  9. Eh, I'd still take Man of Steel and Superman Returns over Superman IV: The Quest for Peace.

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    Replies
    1. Nah, at least "The Quest For Peace" knows it's retarded.

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