beware of dog

The Avengers

I've seen the film twice now in theaters and it was equally enjoyable the second time around. Every main character had a chance to shine. The relationships between each of them felt authentic. [spoilery review]Loki was a compelling villain. The short period where he was dressed as a human showed off his classy swagger, a quality that Tom Hiddleston carried throughout his performance - extremely fitting for a would-be king.

The intelligent banter between Pepper Potts and Stark was enchanting and hilarious. Banner was really likeable, especially for a recluse with anger issues. I particularly enjoyed how Banner and Stark became friends based on the nerd factor. Captain America came across incredibly well as an understated leader. He didn't make friends with anyone, but everyone followed his battle orders without question. He wasn't the strongest, smartest, or best trained, but he instinctively planned strategy for the group and they responded automatically to his command.

I understood the Black Widow/Hawkeye relationship better the second time around, which is understandable since they were the only two characters I knew nothing about beforehand. Strangely, my favorite moment with Hawkeye is when he gives tactical advice to Stark - that the alien craft "can't bank worth a damn." He's not himself for most of the movie and I wasn't really drawn to his self-loathing response to his brainwashing. Black Widow, on the other hand had some real spunk. Her interrogation scene was funny, and it was ten times more awesome when she tricked the high-and-mighty Loki into revealing his plans. For the first time since she appeared in the Iron Man movies, I look forward to seeing her again and learning more about her character.

For being a future king of an advanced society, Thor is still very brutish. He's the man with the hammer and the really big biceps. Which is why I liked it when he tried to use the hammer on Cpt. America's vibration-proof shield and his brute strength failed him. I also really liked the line when I think Stark asks Loki if he's afraid of thunder and Loki says, "I'm not particularly fond of what follows." The moment Thor swoops in and plucks Loki out of the helicopter/jet is arguably his most powerful moment in the movie. Sadly, Thor was tricked more times than I can count. I agree with Loki, "Will you ever NOT fall for that?" Somehow, I still liked him. He's still got heart and he's not dumb, he just tends to lose his objectivity when emotions are running high.

I wasn't enthralled by Nick Fury, but he was a good general for such an unconventional group. Agent Maria Hill was adequate, but something about her made me skeptical about the realistic possibility of such a skinny, beautiful woman being a sharp, strong, dyed-in-the-wool military personnel. She seemed a little over the top for someone of her stature.

Agent Phil Coulson, on the other hand, was awesome. Set up as the stereotypical nonchalant walking, talking suit, Coulson was chalk full of dry humor in every Marvel film he appeared. His starry-eyed behavior towards Captain America was adorable and hilarious. It was also extremely appropriate that such an every-day man should idolize an understated leader. Even more so when the every-day man turned into the every-day soldier and fallen hero. Or as Captain America put it, "the guy to make the sacrifice play, to lay down on a wire and let the other guy crawl over you." Although I loved this moment - it was a great way to rally the others - I can't help thinking, "Leave it to Joss to kill someone." Because, of course, the stakes aren't really life-or-death if nobody dies.
beware of dog

2012 Seasonal Roundup

I watched almost the entire last year of my television on my computer for the sake of convenience and accessibility, so my timing is a bit off for some shows.

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Downton Abbey
Dance Academy
Burn Notice
Game of Thrones
The Vampire Diaries
Being Human (UK)
Once Upon A Time
beware of dog

Courtly Jesters

So, I plugged through the first four Game of Thrones books (yes, I know, they're technically the Song of Ice and Fire books, but the TV show will forever have me calling them GOT books) and FFwded through the first season of GOT, but I didn't start to actually enjoy the show until episode 2x04.

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beware of dog

Don't Judge A Book By It's Movie

Be warned, this post includes nerdy grammar ranting.

I quickly bought The Hunger Games the day after I saw the film and finished reading it the following day (today, I guess). I'm not sure why, but I felt a little more attached to the characters after reading the book, just as I felt more attached to them after writing my movie review. I actually cried a few times, which the movie never managed. On the flip side, once I finished the book, I found myself less and less satisfied with it. Then I remembered a random comment that one of my friends made at the screening and it dawned on me why the book had left a bitter taste: Katniss is extremely cynical. At the time my friend made the comment, I thought, "Well, I'm pretty cynical, I'll probably love her." Collapse )

In short, I plan to read the next two books as soon as they come in the mail, but I can't wait until the sequels come out, and I'm already anticipating going back to see The Hunger Games again.
beware of dog

The Hunger Games

I saw The Hunger Games at midnight last night. I slightly over slept this morning, but I made it to work on time and booked it to the coffee shop immediately (I rarely drink coffee), and I think it was worth it. I wouldn't say that it's one of my favorite movies of all time, but it drew me in and attached me somewhat to the characters. I'm looking forward to the next installment, whenever that comes out, and I will be reading the books shortly.

I found it surprising that there was so little music in the film. I think it worked well, but it made it rather difficult to pass candy around my group of friends without being disruptive. On the plus side, it kept me from eating too many M&Ms since I was self-conscious about how loud my chewing sounded in the nearly silent theater. In a way, the silence enhanced the tension of the film. I didn't realize that the film would be as serious as it was, which I suppose was silly of me since it's a story about child sacrifice and warfare. Almost the only humor was when Katniss was on the talk show with Stanley Tucci's blue-haired character.

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Merlin│AG Warriors

Hiatus Is A Dirty Word

Although Morgana re-taking Camelot again and Arthur being betrayed by his trusted family again was an obvious re-hash of last year's season finale, I was able to see the reasoning behind it. The writers had to get Arthur to a point where he needed to pull the sword from the stone to prove his rightful claim to the throne - because that's what the legends say. The problem is that Morgana is the illegitimate child in this version, not Arthur, so Arthur didn't need prove his lineage, and he's already king. I suppose I can forgive them since Igraine is supposed to be Morgana's parent instead of Uther, Mordred is supposed to be the love child of Arthur and Morgana, and Guinevere was supposed to willingly cheat on Arthur a number of years after they married. Setting that aside, the actual scenes were handled rather well, and the story gave me some emotional character moments worth watching.

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beware of dog

Testing the Waters

I gave it a shot because I like fairytales. I was skeptical at first because the fairy-realm costumes, dialogue, and acting were so ridiculous, but I was able to look past that. What I haven't been able to get over is the tragic direction of the plot. Nothing good lasts, even in the fairytale world. It makes me wonder why the show makers are bothering with the real world at all when the fairytale world is so depressing.

In fairyland, Rumpelstiltskin tricks Cinderella into losing her baby. James's brother dies and he's forced to abandon his mother and marry someone he doesn't love, and Snow breaks his heart besides. Snow's father blatantly ignores his wife and exalts his daughter, which angered me to no end. The Evil Queen may or may not have been hurt by that, but I certainly would have been. Jiminy Cricket's parents were evil and some poor child was made an orphan. Hansel and Gretal were made orphans and still haven't found their father. It gets worse with every episode. The writers are telling the first half of every fairytale with no promise of seeing a happy ending anytime soon, because you know darn well that they want the show to continue for another eight seasons.

In the real world, Emma is a terrible "heroine". She gripes about the mayor, accuses mean people of being bad, and gives nice people terrible advice. My favorite couple - James/David and Snow/Mary-Magdalene - went from being an adorable bantering pair to spineless adulterers. No matter how wrong David and Katherine may be for each other, no one deserves to be cheated on. Why didn't David leave her when he finally chose Mary-Magdalene? Having an affair will just hurt everyone. I don't care how many longing glances David and MM exchange across the diner, it's not romantic, not when there's another person involved.

If it isn't obvious by this point, I have axed this show from my watch list.

Marathoning this show was a little tough, but my curiosity has been piqued by the latest episode "Chaos". As much as the objects of revenge have deserved what they got, I really just want Emily to have done with it, let go of her anger, tell Jack she's Amanda, and sail off into the sunset on his boat with him. Unfortunately, it's too late for that. Emily is too mean to deserve kind, loving Jack. The real Emily Thorne is, too. I really don't care for the real Emily Thorne, but her true attachment to Jack improved her. She's damaged, but at least she knows how to love.

Apart from the ew factor with Tyler, I've come to love the loyal and adorable Nolan, most especially when he tells Emily "baby steps". He's the only person who knows who she is and cares enough to want a good life for her. Everyone else just wants to help Emily get the revenge she craves, which isn't really the best thing for her. I'm rather confused about the mysterious adults that keep on helping Emily. Where did they meet her? How did they find out the truth? Why are they so loyal to her? Why are they actually helping her to destroy other people's lives? That takes an extraordinary kind of person to help someone else get revenge, and Emily knows at least two.

In any case, Daniel Grayson not dying was a surprise and I'm interested to see how the story is going to play out from here. Eventually, I want to see real emotions out of Emily. We've seen a fondness for Jack and hatred for pretty much everyone else. I'm looking forward to the "baby steps" that will round her out as a character.
beware of dog

What's in the Box?

Castle has had its ups and downs this season. I've been unimpressed by their serious episodes, but the comedy has been stellar. It took me a good five episodes to recover from the season opener, but they were in good form until this week's two-parter, "Pandora".

The CIA agent, Sophia, isn't likeable. She doesn't quip, she doesn't deduce, she's not even particularly commanding. She's beauty, but not brains. During my transcribing run-through, I figured out why the CIA isn't pulling my interest. They showed off expensive new tech. Boring. They gave a big set up for this dangerous top secret info and then went all vague when they explained it. "He was an asset. He did top secret stuff. Now he's rogue. Oh, and this other dude's really smart." And then they threw around dramatic terms like "treasonable offense, imminent threat, special assignment, secure facility, my direct line, dangerous operatives, worst-case scenario, catastrophic event" and "all over the world" (well, duh, you're the CIA). And then Sophia kept on praising them for their "impressive work" when all they did was stumble across a couple of bodies, a house, and a car. The rogue Thomas Gage was practically mute, but he was the most interesting one in the bunch.

There were also moments where I talked back to the TV. Like when Beckett entered a mysteriously open house, found a dead body, and then proceeded to call Esposito before checking the rest of the house! What the hey?

And then, of course, there's the tingling sensation that's telling me that the "CIA" is actually the think tank that's trying to unleash Pandora on the U.S. and Thomas Gage is a TV version of Jason Bourne. Not particularly excited for the conclusion, but I'm looking forward to whatever comes after that.
beware of dog

Most Epic St. Valentines Day Ever!

OMG! I have the most amazing guy friends ever! Sometime over the weekend, I received an invitation to a Single's Awareness Day (S.A.D.) party to be held at said guy friends' house. So here I'm sitting at work, thinking I'm going to see my friends tonight - who I missed seeing on Sunday because I was sick all weekend - when in walks one of them with red roses! I was in complete shock, smiling and blushing like crazy. He handed me the roses, asked me how my day was going, and asked me if I was coming to the party at their house tonight. I checked what time the party will start and off he went.

An hour later, another friend walks in with a heart-shaped box of chocolates. He claims he just happened to be wandering around wondering who to give it to and said he thought of me. He handed me the chocolates and went on his way. I'm beaming from ear to ear by this time, marveling at how awesome my friends are, and explaining to my co-workers - who are beginning to notice my heart-themed display - that I don't have rival boyfriends.

Twenty minutes later, in walks a third housemate and we both begin to chuckle. He pulls out a large, heart-nosed teddy bear holding a stuffed red rose. We barely get coherent words out we're both chuckling so hard, and I thank him profusely as I hug the silky-soft teddy bear. He exits, still chuckling, and then I have to explain the whole thing to the rest of my co-workers who now have no choice but to notice the patent affection sitting on my desk.

It's been over an hour and I still can't stop smiling or blushing. I love my friends.
Being Human│ cover eyes

Honey, I Shrunk The World

I pulled my abs yesterday. I think that has to be one of the weirdest muscles I could possibly pull. I was trying to use my bed as an anchor for doing sit ups and the very first sit up sent my lower abs reeling in pain. I did the rest of them anyway, but today I made it worse: I did myself in by trying to do a backwards somersault dance move. I didn't even realize that move engages the abs. Still, all things considered, it's better than cramps.

In other news, I signed up for a free trial of Netflix. I'm slightly disappointed about the movies that are mail-order only, but I've already watched several seasons of the UK version of Being Human, the second season of Dollhouse (which I don't own yet), and a pretty awesome ballet drama series, Dance Academy, from Australia.

Strangely enough, I tried watching the U.S. pilot of Being Human and found it really dull. I'm pretty sure I didn't even make it through the first half. It's like it was trying too hard. The characters weren't charming, the dialogue wasn't interesting or funny. It seemed to project that the vampire and the werewolf were supposed to be friends, but it felt more like they were two guys who apparently had known each other for a while and gotten so used to each others' quirks that they could finally tolerate each other enough to move in together. The cutesy, boring ghost didn't help. To add to its faults, the American version looked visually bright and glossy like a tropical cruise photo in a travel magazine. It wasn't real. It was shiny plastic fruit trying to fool you into sampling it.

Both the unaired and the actual pilot from the BBC Being Human were better. I actually watched them first and I'm glad I did. It had a bit more swearing than I would have liked (including many F-bombs), but the characters drew me in. I immediately understood that Mitchell and George were best friends because of the way they interacted with one another (rather than just plot-filled conversation). They had quirks, but their oddities weren't the focus, and their body language was more natural. I liked them almost immediately. The ghost, Annie, was adorable. I love her. The film quality was darker and more down-to-earth, but not the Hollywood darkness that works overtime to advertise just how dark and creepy it's supposed to be. Am I becoming a TV snob? I really apologize if I am.

Anyway, I should note that the actors who ended up starring in the BBC series were much more suitable than the ones in the unaired pilot. The original Mitchell was really broody and misanthropic; he intrigued me, but I didn't really like him. Replacement Mitchell has loads more energy. It was quite a shock when he actually smiled. His Irish accent kind of hooked me in, too. Whoever did the casting did an excellent job. And the writers have a lovely sense of humor.

Being Human has been on my radar for a while now - I even have a GIF that I just found out is from that show (see userpic) - but Dance Academy took me completely by surprise. I don't even know how it ended up in my recommendations queue. I haven't seen a whole lot of dance movies, but most of them are crap. Either it's actors who have obvious stand ins for the dancing parts, or really horrible plots that try to appease the guys in the audience who were dragged to the theater by their girlfriends or gagged and tied to a chair. This show makes no apologies, appeases no one, and plays almost like a documentary for how unaffected it is. Yet there's still drama, and it's still really appealing and entertaining.