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She-Hulk: Attorney at Law (2022)
What happened in that last episode?!
Until the conclusion of episode 8 my whole family was enjoying this as a lightweight way to kill half an hour midweek and see what MCU references or characters showed up. Not too intense but enjoyable. None of us are comic book readers but we have watched all the MCU stuff except Ms. Marvel, which was just a bit twee for us.
However, with the way the second half of Jen's last episode played out, it means that nothing that we saw in previous episodes had any consequences. We wanted to know:
* what happened to Josh (the guy she met at the wedding)
* anything about Titania - I mean, she burst into the courtroom in ep.1, and we got no real info or backstory about her. If she hates Jen, then why did she actively brand her products "She-Hulk"? This made no sense and I was hoping the backstory would be somehow explored more.
* What were the consequences of Jen's property destruction from the earlier episodes? Daredevil made a reference to this at one point but it seems like she just gets away with stuff.
All in all the last episode left everyone with disappointment. The whole season arc meant nothing once the second half of the last episode was processed. I would have probably rated it an 8 if everything had been satisfactorily wrapped up. That final episode really dragged my rating down.
Ms. Marvel (2022)
I had a lot of trouble grasping it
The flow of the show just seemed SO fast-paced. During the whole intro montage of Kamala's video, I couldn't get what she was saying at all, and so I spent my time looking at the funny little cutouts and sketches and wondering what this was all about. (This was not a problem with the volume of the show - it was definitely the fast pace of speaking and the extremely quick cutaways to various cartoon figures.) In all the crowd scenes (school, AvengerCon) I had no idea what people were saying. When Kamala and Bruno were speaking alone, it was not much better - but only when Kamala and her mother were interacting did I actually understand the words the actors were saying. Luckily my husband is a fan of the comics and could also keep up with the dialogue so he interpreted for me.
To me this feels more like a teen girl "Disney Show" from the 2000s, rather than a Marvel show from the 2020s. I get that they're trying out different things to see what works, and showcasing characters that many MCU fans won't know about, but I do think they should slow down a bit. Kamala may speak the way a typical teenager speaks but if no one can understand her then it's not going to work.
I didn't care enough for the story to re-watch it and try to grasp it on a second viewing.
The Matrix Resurrections (2021)
I was really drawn into the original Matrix and saw it many times in the theater. The second and third, not so much, but I did see them. Can't remember much detail about them except the very ending, which resolved the saga satisfactorily.
So when this was announced, my immediate thought was "cash grab." What on earth could they plan to tell, that would advance the Matrix story, without invalidating the things that came before? I would have been more interested in a new Matrix story if it did *not* have Reeves and Moss...a story which was clearly the "next chapter" in the saga. But a Matrix story without Reeves and Moss wouldn't earn as much money, I'm sure.
But I watched it. And I wasn't impressed. These specific reasons:
1. "Bugs" - voice was too slushy or mumbly. Couldn't understand most of what she said, even with the volume turned way up.
2. Fight scenes - these were somewhat groundbreaking in the first movie but here it's just more of the same-old. Maybe there's nothing more to explore in this arena.
3. Neil Patrick Harris looked like he was wearing a 2,000-year-old Kryten spare head at first, but as the movie went on, his face became a more realistic human face for someone the actor's actual age.
4. Was upset by the lack of Fishburne inclusion. Yes, they addressed it, but.
5. Way too many clips recycled from the earlier trilogy. Like they needed something interesting on set, so they just cheaped out and reran certain scenes in the background instead of actively coming up with something interesting and new to look at.
6. Reeves totally acted like he was phoning it in. I know he has a reputation as somewhat "wooden," but this is rarely something I think about while watching him. Yet by the 25-minute mark I'd commented that he was acting really poorly (which he was) and he continued to be this stilted all throughout the movie. It's almost as if he thought "Hey, everybody knows Neo, I don't have to do anything special to portray him." Every word fell out of his mouth like a brick onto asphalt.
7. But worst: the story! The story makes no sense at all. Characters act in ways that don't make sense. Primarily what I found annoying is that Neo is willing to put a whole lot of people in danger just to rescue Trinity. This goes against all human ethics we've been taught.
Overall this had a sort of "filler" flavor, as if it was the center part of some other movie. Production values were good enough to be a Matrix movie, but it fell flat in all these other areas. Perhaps Lilly Wachowski had the right idea after all.
It's all right
I was initially not interested in this show because as I understood it, the point was to have Barton pass along the title of Hawkeye to some girl before he retires. But hubby wanted to watch it (he is a Marvel completionist) so we did.
Pros: I feel the pacing is good. By contrast TFATWS seemed too fast-paced and we ended up missing bits of story. Action sequences are ok.
Cons, oh so many cons. Bishop is too overconfident and full of herself in a smug, unpleasant way. Possibly valid behavior from a rich 'only child.' Hawkeye has trick arrows that could have been well-used in the movies up to and including Endgame but they never were. Too much emphasis on the dog. Also, the whole plot line seems contrived: what is the problem with the Ronin suit being seen in public? Just let it go, Hawk. I'm also curious as to why Barton and his youngest kid use ASL to each other, when the kid clearly has no hearing issues (he speaks on the phone with Barton without a problem). Barton's hearing issues, since they can be corrected by hearing aids, are not severe enough for him to need to learn ASL.
Will finish the series hoping for better episodes.
Dune: Part One (2021)
I did a little bit of research ahead of time, but I had absolutely no idea this was going to be the first of a two-part movie! Nowhere until today did I see "Part One" in the title, no pre-release info that caught my eye mentioned this. So I was baffled when it ended. Then I went online and found out more about it. This marketing tactic disinclines me to watch the second one when it comes out. The sound mixing was bad, because in a lot of spots I couldn't understand the dialogue but the background music was very loud. I also do not know the source material (except for vague 80s memories of cultural references to the Kyle MacLachlan version) so I didn't understand about Paul's mother and the old priestess and so on, until after the movie ended and i looked it up. So, a nice-looking movie, believable CGI, reasonable acting, but probably not gonna bother with the second one unless I'm bored and it comes out on HBO Max again.
What If...? (2021)
I feel gypped
Somehow, despite my reading lots of intel before the series launched, I had no idea that each episode was part of a larger overarching story. My whole family expected them to be standalone episodes, and because of this, when we finished watching each one, we were all disappointed at the cliffhangery endings of many of them. None of them tied into the adjacent episodes, and most of them were pretty weak. Taken as a standalone, the Zombies episode was the best...in fact the only good one.
By the time the Ultron episode aired, we were really only watching it to finish the series. Nobody was really that interested in it anymore, especially because of the pompous, annoying Watcher character.
It wasn't until Strange Supreme appeared at the end of that episode that we understood these stories would now all tie together in the finale. Thinking back to the pre-Ultron episodes, they now made a little more sense with their cliffhangers, so we were mildly intrigued to see what would happen in the finale. And it was...okay...but still not great. I think Party Thor was the only saving grace from the final episode; the rest was mostly just fighting, and Captain Carter fangirling over both Strange Supreme and Black Widow (who is Carter's BFF, apparently).
Probably if there is a season 2 we won't bother to watch.
My personal beef is that one of the episodes, I guess it was the Killmonger one, ended with Pepper and Shuri bonding and vowing to fix things, and they were not included in the Guardians of the Multiverse team. I would have liked to see both of them active in the fight.
Seriously, more Killmonger power-to-the-downtrodden? It was just the same attitude as in Black Panther and almost the same actions. Boring. Worst in the series, I actually fell asleep during these 30 minutes.
What If...?: What If... Zombies?! (2021)
I can't believe all the 1-star reviews, but they seem to be from the fans of the comic books. I'm a casual MCU fan (haven't yet seen Black Widow or Shang-Chi or any of the Marvel TV shows that were early on, like Agent Carter and Agents of S. H. I. E. L. D. but keep up with most of the "big name" characters and have been watching the new Disney+ shows). Well, this was a great episode for me to watch. It was excellent to see which minor characters they decided to keep alive and use for this - and, haha, Bucky in the shower was a great surprise - and I didn't think the jokes were out of place at all. Some of them were corny, but the whole episode had a great comedic feel. I do agree with the disappointment of the ending. I saw Zombie Thanos appear and then it ended. What?! So, it may be a setup for a future episode or even a future animated show, and that would be highly amusing.
Another problem: Banner, Kurt and Spidey were all drawn very similarly. The real actors look different from each other but the animated ones were all quite similar, and if the outfit wasn't visible, it was hard to tell which one was doing what.
Also, yay Cloak of Levitation. Very helpful sentient item!
The Mallorca Files (2019)
A Mix of Well-Known Tropes
Bond-like theme song, Moonlighting-style character interaction between the two leads. A thing that bothers me, probably more than it should, is the height difference between Max and Miranda. He's at least a head taller than her, and when they are walking towards the camera, the camera has difficulty keeping them both in frame. The top of Max's head is usually cut off, or else he does a lot of contorting to squinch down a bit to her level. Sometimes they use weird camera angles, like having it down by MIranda's feet, looking up at them, presumably to avoid that obvious height difference. It's awkward and takes away from any enjoyment I had. It's better when they're in the car together.
Add to this that I can barely understand all these accents, and that I don't really find the romantic parts believable.
This was recommended to us because we like Death in Paradise, and I find the latter show to have a much more seamless approach to crime. With The Mallorca Files it seems very clunky and the red herrings are awkwardly done. With Death in Paradise, once you get over the fact that the tiny island of Sainte Marie has so many murders, it's good. With The Mallorca Files, we gave up in the middle of the episode about the dead DJ. There's just nothing outstanding to keep us interested.
Not the Sam and Bucky I expected
At first, before the show even premiered, I was not too concerned about plot. I expected and hoped to see a lot of Sam/Bucky humorous arguments and banter that would eventually evolve into friendship by the finale, as they learned to fight together and trust each other...plus some excellent action scenes. Well, the humorous arguments and banter were very minimal (I can only remember one instance), and other than the very first opening scene, the action sequences were nothing special. Bucky was mostly relegated to supporting character status. Karli's end goal was never clear. John Walker was the only character with any real development. Add to this the bland woke storyline and actions that didn't make any sense, and you will see why the only enjoyment I got from it was Sebastian Stan eye candy.
Leverage: The Gold Job (2012)
Possibly the worst episode of the whole series
To me, this episode reads as if the writer(s) really had it in for Hardison. He was a total jerk, very condescending and smug, throughout the whole thing, and I couldn't believe Eliot didn't punch him at some point. At the very end, Nate proves his own mastermind worth, showing that he was on the case the whole time, and Hardison is man enough to accept that he himself wasn't up to the task, but up to that point i just kept wishing for someone to ignore all Hardison's rantings and planning, or just tell him to shut up about it, or punch him.
If you can get past this almost out-of-character jerk behavior from Hardison, then the episode does hang together.
Leverage: The 12-Step Job (2009)
A tough one to call
Everything about this episode is good and believable except for Sophie. We are watching 2 episodes a night, so all the preceding episodes are still fairly fresh in our minds. And what we've noticed is that up to this episode, the interaction we are shown between Nate and Sophie is light, flirtatious banter. There's no real emotional weight in their discussions; even the argument about when they first met (shown in "The Mile High Job") was fairly teasing. And then suddenly in this episode Sophie has become a very pushy, demanding woman. Her character seems to have jumped overnight into a possessive, domineering *partner* with a higher stake in the relationship than we've seen so far. Instantly. Granted the topic is Nate's drinking, but she comes the heavy on him in a very unpleasant way. I don't agree with his drinking but I certainly understand why this interaction irritated him so much. Bellman acts it well, but all of us watching feel that they moved too fast with the Nate/Sophie relationship this way. This is the behavior of a woman who's got a far more serious investment in a relationship than we have seen between her and Nate so far.
Interesting to Re-Binge
We watched the whole series in late 2016, and I remember them fondly but don't remember too much detail other than the character interplay. So we started again with S1E1 last night. What I found most surprising on this re-watch was that (a) Dubenich was actually the guy who brought the team together, not Nate (this had completely escaped me the first time), and (b), the team was pretty relaxed and comfortable with each other right off the bat, with their roles as team players. I feel like the show would have had greater stakes if the first episode, which perhaps could have had a longer runtime as the pilot, had had Nate finding and hiring the team (with difficulty) instead of Dubenich, and had explored their discomfort at working with others, and possibly either "funny screwup scenes" or "dramatic screwup scenes" as they tried to perpetrate the heist. It just all went a little too smoothly for people who "always work alone" and didn't really know each other. Other than that, it's fun, and we're looking forward to re-watching the whole series.
Red Dwarf: Mechocracy (2017)
Given the antics at the start of the episode, I was convinced that the entire "election" campaign was a big giant manipulation by Rimmer, to get back at Kryten, and to saddle Kryten with what appeared (to me as a viewer) to be a completely lame job that no one would want. It seemed so obvious! And therefore I was very disappointed to find they had been playing it straight, and the episode ended with the election loser thinking about his fate. Otherwise quite funny and as always, I enjoy the banter between the Boys From The Dwarf.
Good Omens (2019)
As a fan of the book...
...I am not that impressed. I feel that certain parts of the story were chopped out. For example, there was not enough of The Them and their childhood shenanigans to make me sympathize with the series' version. The use of Queen music was not explained in the show, whereas it was a pretty big point in the book. We didn't get any of the "Other 4 Horsemen." Stuff like that. I think a longer series might have worked better, taking the initial episodes to delve more deeply into each character or group. If I hadn't already known the story so well, I would have had no idea what was going on.
I didn't personally like Frances McDormand's voice; it was very soft and slushy and I had a hard time understanding what she was saying.
And my personal beef with the sets is that Crowley's apartment looked like the narrow, dark utility hallway of a Gothic church, where I'd always pictured it as a sleek, open, expensive-looking 'executive penthouse' type of thing.
For the first 4 episodes I basically sat and waited to see how they would handle familiar scenes, and it wasn't until the last 2 that I began to enjoy the show. I probably wouldn't watch it again, but will continue my annual reread of the book.
I only watched this because of Sebastian Stan. That said, I did go into it with an open mind. Unfortunately I was completely baffled. I don't understand Merricat's motivation, nor why Cousin Charles all of a sudden decided to show up now. Like, had he recently fallen into debt? We don't know. Maybe he's not even really their cousin!
I don't understand why Julian and Constance allow Merricat to do all the weird stuff she does, especially when Charles is around, without at least explaining that it's impolite or flat-out wrong, like when she puts the dirt and twigs in the bed. These and other specific actions Merricat takes, or did take, are not fully explained. Overall, it feels like an outline for a story that should have been fleshed out more. The only character that seemed interesting to me was the guy in the diner that was Constance's old beau. All of the Blackwoods are very one-dimensional, even Charles.
Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
Probably too ambitious
We saw the movie today, discussed it for about 10 minutes afterwards, and now have moved on. Overall, because of the "scenes in space," this movie felt more like a Guardians movie with a little extra Avengers, not an Avengers movie with a little bit of Guardians. None of the Avengers had enough screen time to satisfy any of us, but all the Guardians had quite a lot of screen time.
Because there were "scenes on Earth" and "scenes in space," the story felt chopped up; it was as if Thanos' minions were fighting one war and he himself was off fighting a different one.
Disappointing in its inability to grab and hold our interest - but nice to see the old gang on the screen again. This is the first movie in the MCU that we probably won't bother buying on disc. Also, I was really hoping Bucky and Dr. Strange would share some interactions, but they didn't :-)
Death in Paradise (2011)
Running out of steam in Season 4
We're binge-watching, and we've loved the show so far, but in season 4, it seems like the writers have gone off the deep end. Two of the shows so far are so wildly implausible that it took us right out of the enjoyment of watching them. These are the "retirement home" and "historical society" shows (will say no more for fear of spoilers). The team is still doing excellent work, and keeping us interested, but the chain of events that these two killers follow are just overly convoluted and ridiculous. We will keep watching and hope it goes back on the upswing - and even these crazy plots are interesting to discuss - but I'm afraid they hit a wall and these nutty ones are just going to keep coming.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (2013)
Some pretty funny moments, but...
First of all anyone who says this is the "spiritual successor" to Barney Miller is smoking crack. Barney Miller focused on the cops, the perps, and the day-to-day problems in the precinct (Internal Affairs, Luger, etc.) The Nine-Nine is more concerned with the comedy. If any of Barney's detectives had acted like any of these guys, he would have shot them, or quit! A contest to see who can stay in a chair the longest? The Jimmy Jab Games? Other than A) being funny and B) having to do with NYC cops, the shows are nothing alike.
Anyway, that said, this show does have funny moments, and as such it's worth coming back to watch each new episode. But they are mostly just "funny moments." Something about the directing, or the pace, I'm not sure what, always leaves me feeling like it was a collection of one-liners. It's often choppy between one line and the next, it's often too fast-paced for me to figure out what's going on, and some of the actors (notably Samberg and Beatriz) speak so fast that I don't always catch what they're saying.
We will keep watching it, though, until it sours.
Logan Lucky (2017)
Enjoyable enough for summer viewing, but there were a lot of loose threads in this story! One: Joe Bang says his brothers need to be in on the heist because one of them is a computer expert. Other than one joke that brother makes, there is never any reference made to any computers after this! Were there any computers used for the heist? We didn't notice any. Also, Joe's brothers said they had to be convinced of a 'moral reason' to do this heist because they'd gone straight. Jimmy convinces them. Later, the moral reason is eliminated due to scheduling, and the brothers complain that they no longer have the moral reason...but they go ahead and do their jobs without any more convincing.
Reason enough not to trust online sources: several reviews said Jimmy was a newly-unemployed coal miner, which is completely untrue.
Anyway, we puzzled over these few odd happenings for a while, and then decided it wasn't worth bothering about. This is probably better as a freebie on Netflix, and not something to pay for. (Though we did pay for it.)
Hacksaw Ridge (2016)
A story with a lot of holes in it
I felt very oddly confused by this movie. Desmond decides to enlist and "be a medic," yet the only medical preparation we see is him on the porch reading a book on anatomy. There is no mention made of any Army training, or any schooling in medicine he may have done before enlisting. I'm unfamiliar with the Army (especially in that era) but it seemed very bizarre that a boy could just "decide" to be a medic and that's all it took. I was also distracted by the end (after the war flashbacks ended). Thought that they should have shown what happened to him when he got home. Was his father still around? Was he proud of Desmond? They did show the still photos of the real Desmond, but it would have wrapped up more satisfactorily if they had concluded the story with a return of the actor playing Desmond, coming back to his home and family.
In addition to these inconsistencies I also felt there was too much emphasis placed on the gore of war. Too many men with gruesomely-missing limbs being dragged around, and so forth. I saw "Tropic Thunder" long before "Hacksaw Ridge" and the wounds in Tropic Thunder, done for comedic value, are almost the same as the wounds shown in "Hacksaw Ridge." I spent all of the battle scenes watching my cat groom his paws because the gore was so over-the-top.
Lastly, was that rope ladder up the cliff really a thing? Why didn't the Japanese just burn it, or chop it down, when the previous troops had left? It seems like it must have been created with cinematic license, because in the real world, it would never have stayed intact. I'm going to go read about this battle now, but that rope ladder was so jarringly stupid that it took me out of the movie quite a bit.
Ordinarily I like a good war movie but this wasn't one.
Lego Alpha Team (2000)
A hilarious little game that challenges...
We bought this game in 2002, I think, when my son was 2 and playing around on the computer (yeah, just watching Mom and Dad and hitting random keys when we let him). That was under Windows ME, if I'm not mistaken. The bright colors and funny Lego people caught and held his attention.
But he really loved it, so we played this a lot. The courses are slightly challenging and it's very fun to hit the Go button and watch all your Lego people run around and do the tasks that are designated by the items on the course. The story is typical "bad guy wants to take over the world" but it's amusingly done.
Anyway, our son is now 8, and he still plays this game, and it still worked under XP and now it works under Vista, all with no problems. He is able to complete the courses now without using any hints, and he still loves to give a verbal replay of what his Lego people are doing.
Doesn't hold up over time
I was enough of a Beatles fan in 1978 to beg my mom to stay up and watch this mockumentary, though I was only 12 and this was on far past my bedtime. I didn't know any of the Python work at that time, but was delighted to see George, Mick, the SNL people, all acting in this goofy film. The music is surprisingly good in its own right, in addition to being slightly-skewed Beatles music.
Having enjoyed it so much as a kid I finally got around to buying the DVD a few months ago. At this point I *did* know the Pythons and of course more of the 'topical' comments from 1978 would be more familiar to me over time. However, what I found is that this movie is a very flat film, full of cheap lame gags that make me wonder how any adult audience in 1978 could have liked this movie. I really wanted to like it in 2006, but it was just too flat. Upon re-watching I only really enjoyed Mick Jagger's part; he was the only one who looked like he was having fun, and not "trying to make us laugh." I do own both the soundtrack to this film and its follow-up, "Archaeology." Both very good sets of music. But the film is a throwaway unless you want to listen to the songs in their original context.
One of the Top 7 in my book
The comments on this movie are so mixed, it amazes me. I love this movie for the same reasons I love Silverado - a lot of male camaraderie and very little romance. (Come on, you can't call the Carol Heathrow stuff 'romance'!) I'm a 40-year-old girl and I still love it. (But I must add a caveat, I HATE "chick flicks.")
The characters are funny, because each has his little quirks (sometimes big quirks - Shrevie's records and Eddie's football). This was the first movie I saw Kevin Bacon in and he was a perfectly snarky Fenwick. Trying to light a cigarette using the disconnected gas stoves at the appliance store! Just absurd.
I can only watch it every year or so; more often would make me a little squirrely, but it's definitely worth watching. I didn't live through the '50s but I don't consider this to really be 50s-specific, except for the lack of technology. Otherwise it could be taking place today.
The Birdcage (1996)
Not as surprising as the original, too mainstream
I saw "La Cage Aux Folles" in college and was amused by it, although it was more historically fun (it was an obvious late-70s movie - hairstyles, shoes, skirts, etc.). I was interested to hear that "The Birdcage" was being made because it would be more up to date - but very dismayed to hear that the lead would be played by Robin Williams. At the time this movie was made everyone had this mental image of Robin Williams characters and this was NOT one that fit the mold. "OK," you will say, "he didn't want to be typecast." Very true and laudable - but "Ooh! Robin Williams is playing a gay man!" was an enormous subcurrent of the publicity for this movie. For me this turned the whole experience into one long Robin Williams comedy sketch, with appearances by others. Since I wasn't and am not a big fan of Williams, it made the movie only so-so.
The rest of the movie was pretty good - the sets, Nathan Lane who is always great in these over-the-top roles, Hank Azaria in those hot pants!! - but casting a different actor in the Robin Williams role (at that time) might have been a smarter move for posterity. Not someone as flashy as Lane - but someone less mainstream than Williams.