Well it’s been a while sense I’ve done anything here on Illusive One’s Reviews for a number of reasons. This is mainly because there really hasn’t been anything that I’ve really wanted to write about over the past month and to be perfectly honest, their still isn’t as I’ve been and still am distracted with other things. So I decided to do this post entitled Brief Thoughts On…to give brief thoughts on various things that I’ve seen, done or played over the past few months that I didn’t do any kind of post for one reason or another. So read on and let me know what you think of these things and sorry for being gone for so long.
Unfortunately since the release of The Dark Knight Rises their really haven’t been to many films that have come out in theaters that I’ve had much interest in seeing. The one exception to this has been The Expendables 2 which was probably the most fun I’ve had watching a film all summer as it had great action scenes, a great sense of humor, great character interaction and storyline that was surprisingly solid for the genera. The only problems that I had with it was that Chuck Norris and Jet Li were underused, the cinematography was distractingly grainy and unfocused at certain points and the character played by Liam Hemsworth was poorly written and acted and just annoyed the crap out of me. But still, I really enjoyed it and the reason that I didn’t write a full review on it was because I was helping Korsgaard doing his video review of it and he more or less said all that was needed to be said. Take a look at it and tell me what you think.
Seriously though, go see this film. It is a ton of fun.
I also rewatched The Dark Knight Rises and The Avengers and I have to say that TDKR was a lot better on a second viewing. Once I got past the facts that Batman is in little of the film, that it simply wasn’t as good as its predecessor, and the drag of the second act, (much easier on a second viewing), it was a lot easier to focus on the film itself as what it is as opposed to what it could have been. The plot, while a bit bloated, is again still a lot better than 90% of what is out there in the genera and the way they characterize Bruce Wayne and how they play up the man vs. mask conflict is probably the best they have ever done in a comic book film and is incredibly tense and full of great suspense. From a technical standpoint the film probably has the best special effects that I’ve seen this year, along with great cinematography and direction and tense, well-choreographed action scenes with an incredibly well used score and I was really able to enjoy these things a lot more on a second viewing. Granted, I still think that the film could have been a lot better and my previous review still stands but it is a film that was better for me on a second viewing.
The Avengers, however, didn’t fare as well. Whereas the good things came out for TDKR on a second viewing The Avengers’ problems came out more on a second viewing. The most glaring issue was the plot and characterization and how bare boned they are, especially in comparison to The Dark Knight Trilogy, the Bryan Singer X-Men films and the Spider-Man films, (both Sam Rami and rebooted films). This has been a reoccurring problem with the entire Avengers franchise but here it’s even worse for me given the critical praise of the film and the fact that it has plot holes and things that the writers pulled right out of there asses that rival Prometheus in head scratching moments. And unlike TDKR the film really doesn’t have a well-used score or cinematography to back it up and many of the composite shots where the actors are acting in front of a green screen look really crappy. But keep in mind that this is just hot air due to the film’s popularity and my hatred of the franchise and it’ll probably cool down after a while. But like TDKR my previous review still stands and I do understand why so many people liked it. It’s a fun summer blockbuster with great action, above average special effects, (for the most part), very good acting, had a great sense of humor and more than deserved the money that it made Just don’t expect me to share your feelings on it.
I also got the chance to watch The Gray starring Liam Neeson which turned out to be an incredibly depressing film that layered on soul crushing plot point after soul crushing plot point. Liam Neeson gave what was, in my opinion, probably the best performance of his career and I really hope that the academy will at least give him a nomination for his performance here. I also took a look at Chronicle which turned out to be an extremely entertaining and well-made film and it’s one of those lower budget films that can totally back and hope that everyone involved in its makings has a great carrier. I can say the exact same thing for Cabin in the Woods. Unfortunately I can’t reveal too much of what happens for spoiler purposes but it is an extremely entertaining film and one of the more obscure films of the year that I highly recommend watching at least once. I also had the chance to see Snow White and the Huntsman and I surprisingly enjoyed it for various reasons. But did they really expect us to Kristen Stewart was better looking than Charlize Theron? Yea…I don’t think so.
Films that did not fare with me so well with me however included the 1981 film Excalibur that had shoddy acting, un-compelling characters who will often disappear and die off camera and a very weak plot that tried to tell a big story but ultimately failed to give it any real meat and in truth, the only thing worth noting about this film is that it contained early roles for Liam Neeson and Patrick Stewart. Avoid it if you get the chance because it is not worth your time. Another god-awful film I had the displeasure of seeing was The Wicker Tree which somehow managed to be worse than the 2006 remake of The Wicker Man and I honestly did not know that was possible. There was also Wrath of the Titans which, outside of a few moments, failed to impress me and I just felt like I had wasted my time after watching it. But by far the worst film that I had the displeasure of seeing was Battleship. In a nut shell, the acting, dialog, characters, special effects and plot were all beyond terrible and I really don’t wish to bring back the memory of this by thinking about why it was so terrible. If you want to see a complete review of why this film was so goddamn awful read Korsgaard’s review of it because he can do it more justice then I can. Let it suffice to say, however, that it is easily the worst film I have seen all year and has quickly ranked up there with one of my most hated films of all time. Seriously, it was BAD!
Now, I don’t do to many things on T.V. series because there is usually WAY too much to cover so I’m just going to give you some brief thoughts on the latest seasons of certain series that I’ve watched recently and of the complete series that I finished watching this year. The one that left the biggest impression on me was Battlestar Galactica and what a great series that was. It had really good special effects for a show series, really good acting and characterization and fantastic storylines and subplots that addressed all kinds of issues ranging from politics, racism and basic human rights. And it had a lot of kick-ass fighting. That always helps to. The most glaring problem with the series is, as any fan of the series know, is the ending. I won’t spoil it for those of you who haven’t seen it but let me just say that it makes the original ending to Mass Effect 3 look like Toy Story 3 in comparison. Seriously! It is that bad and I found myself constantly hoping that the last act of the final episode was some kind of dying dream or something and it remains the finale that I hate above all other finales.
The Newsroom was a very good series, with good writing that managed to incorporate personal drama, comedy that comes from it, along with addressing issues that do plague not only the world but the world of the news and how it’s been slowly selling out in order to attract more views for advertisement money and I honestly don’t think that this is something that is not addressed enough in any form. Needless to say, I really enjoyed it and unless you’re a right wing nut, you probably will to. The latest season of Breaking Bad, while still good, just doesn’t seem to be as compelling as previous seasons and it seems like the series is on its last leg. Hell on Wheels on the other hand, seems to be getting better and I can’t wait to see what happens next in the series.
I also had the chance to re-watch the various series of Bruce Timm’s D.C. Animated Universe. With the Batman series, I found that for as many episodes that were above average or great, there were just as many that were just ok but it’s still the strongest and most potent of the series’ and I highly recommend that you take a look at it if you’re feeling nostalgic. The Superman series, while a lot better then I remembered from my youth, kind of comes off as the Batman series’ less talented brother, with villains that aren’t nearly as interesting or compelling and Superman himself is just a boring protagonist and isn’t memorable in anyway save for his powers that are oddly inconsistent in their strength. What made the series ultimately work, however, was that writing of the series’ storylines were consistently good and the villains really did work, mostly due to the voice acting by people like Clancy Brown, Michael Ironside, and Malcolm MacDowell. While it certainly isn’t as good Batman and is probably the weakest of the Universe, (with the exceptions of Static Shock and Zeta Project that I never watched), it certainly is worth watching if you’re a fan of the characters and want to see a less hammy adaptation of the Man of Steel.
Batman Beyond likewise was a lot better then I remembered and like its predecessor, knew how to bring in the more human elements that come with these kinds of stories. It’s only real fault is that it’s villains just weren’t nearly as interested, sympathetic or compelling as those of the other D.C. Universe series and can sadly take away from the experience if you let it. Justice League, on the other hand, isn’t as good as I remembered it, as three big things kind of hindered my enjoyment of it. The first was that the episodes were almost always two parters which almost always ensured a lot of padding for the episodes which bored the crap out of me. The second, sadly, was Batman. While he is undoubtedly the best hero character in the Timmverse, in this series he came off as being really awkward and out of place among all these other heroes who’s powers were borderline dietic. The final problem was that if focused a little too much on John Stewart and Hawkgirl and this romantic subplot they had going on between the two. While I that this was done well, it ended up dominating the entire show, making the two of them the main characters as opposed to the ensemble series you would expect from a show like this. Justice League: Unlimited, however, was fantastic with great storylines, characterization, and action that frequently addressed the rolls and potentially uncontrollable powers of superheroes and somehow actually managed to be more mature then anything the Marvel Cinematic Universe has come out with, (I know this seems like I’m taking pot shots at The Avengers but I am being very serious on this. It really treats you a lot more like an adult then those films ever do). While I think that it went a little downhill in the second half it still was a great series and one that I cannot recommend enough if you’re a D.C. fan.
For as much as I love video games, I haven’t been playing to many new ones lately, as their really haven’t been to many worth noting that have been released or good enough for me to finish or recent enough to do a review on. With Star War: The Old Republic, the storylines and characters are really good but it has too much of the grind and dullness that other MMOs like World of Warcraft have and my playing of it has been off and on. Kingdom of Amalur: Reckoning didn’t really catch my interest and Dragon’s Dogma was just one of the most repetitive pieces of crap I have ever played despite some fast, slick and epic combat gameplay. The enhanced edition of Witcher 2 was a lot of fun but I had a hard time getting into it, mainly because I had a hard time getting invested in the story and characters as I hadn’t played the first game before this one. Max Payne 3 was an awesome game with really fun gameplay and a great protagonist. The only problem I had with it was that the main story just didn’t do it for me and felt kind of like the plot of a half assed action movie. The only other games of note are the recent Transformers games, which are pretty good, especially for the licensed game genera, which is usually infamously bad. Hopefully as October rolls around I’ll get back to my usual videogame reviewing self but for now this is all I have.
Just about everything that I have been reading in this department has been The New 52 and most of my previous opinions have stayed the same. The only one that I can really think of where my opinion has radically changed is Superman and Men of War as those lines have easily gone from Browse to Read. Superman, to put it simply, has gotten a lot better and with Men of War I read over the secondary storylines which I failed to do the first time which made the series a whole lot better.
But then we have Young Justice, which I failed to review in previous months. Why? Well, over the past year, as you no doubt have noticed, my interest in this blog has kind of diminished, but that’s actually not the main reason. You see, I did read over all of the lines in that section and none of them really stuck out and I didn’t have much to say about them. But sense I have an obligation to say something, here are some brief thoughts on them. Teen Titans is good with good storylines and compelling characters that actually act more mature and believable then The Justice League, (make of that what you will), and some cool crossovers with Superboy and Legion Lost. But it is flawed with a lot of issues with the dialog and only just in my Read section. Static Shock is the definition of ok, as it doesn’t really bring anything that we haven’t seen before but nothing that I would consider bad, and there were definitely other titles that they should have axed before this one. I say give it a Browse. Hawk and Dove….Rob Liefeld drew it and wrote the last four issues. Do I really need to say anything more?
Blue Beetle I think is very good as the conflict between the Scarab and the protagonist is a good one and the characters are very compelling. I have heard complaints that it sucks when compared to the original run of the character but coming from a new comer to the series I say give it a Read. As far as Legion and Legion Lost goes, I really don’t have much to say as it really didn’t leave much of an impression on me. I say Browse them both but be prepared for a bit of a learning curve.
And that’s it for this article. Hopefully this will be the start of me getting back into blogging and over the next few months I’ll probably be back up to speed. For the more immediate future, Korsgaard and I have another video planned out for Dredd 3D which will be up on Monday at the earliest and Wednesday at the latest so be on the lookout for that. I also plan on doing a text review of that as well as one of The Master and possibly the prequel comic for Dredd 3D so be on the lookout for that. In the meantime, it’s great to be back. So until next time this is The Illusive One signing off.