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Iron Man 2- I’m going to be honest. Unlike many of you out there, I have trouble enjoying the superhero genre. So many of them fail to truly stand out as anything other than dumb action. Really dumb action. And this is coming from some who spent his childhood loving the hell out of Arnold Schwarzenegger movies.
So with that in mind, I was pleasantly surprised by Iron Man 2. It’s been years since I watched the original- and if not for the Avengers- I would have likely forgotten how well Robert Downey Jr. fits the role. He brings genuine character to the man known as Tony Stark, and it’s as if Downey has some past experience with being a fallen star.
Sadly, despite the solid plot and performances all around, the pacing falls flat. Many of the most entertaining fights come well before the climax and the final moments feel so contrived. Watching Iron Man fly around the populated city as a squad of mechs try to gun him down is quite jarring. Especially when two minutes later he decides to finally take the fight away from thousands of innocent bystanders. Things only get worse though as the big showdown with Ivan Vanko last maybe a minute and doesn’t even seem to give Iron Man and War Machine much trouble.
All in all, it’s a solid film, one I certainly don't regret watching. Now it’s time to move on to act three and get a taste for Shane Black’s director chops, because god damn I’m excited to see what he’ll do with Death Note.
The Tall Man- Despite the stigma that comes along with most horror movies these days, I still enjoy the genre. The truly good films may come sporadically at best, but when ones such as Let the Right One In come along, it’s a real treat.
The Tall Man actually starts off quite interestingly. A small mining town in Washington state is crumbling. Many are out of work and things take a turn for the worse when the children begin to vanish. A relatively simple setup, but things quickly take a turn for the worst. A significant plot twist hits roughly 30-40 minutes in and boy is it the most incoherent drivel. I had to pause and actually watch a ten minute section again because of the lackluster delivery of said twist. The sad thing is, it’s actually a pretty interesting moment once you’re able to comprehend what the hell is going on. From there on out The Tall Man proves shocking plot twists don’t inherently make for an engrossing story. In fact, when the most surprising moment comes so early on, everything that follows feels like a let down.
The one shining aspect of The Tall Man, is Jessica Biel showing off her ability for the more dramatic, in what’s probably the most impressive performance of her career. It’s just a shame everything else about the film was so unbearable.
Attack on Titan- I truly feel sorry for you if you’re not into anime. What I love most about this series is how it subverts every expectation from the very beginning. Take a look at the many action animes out there such as Naruto. Now I’m a fan, but it falls victim to so many tropes of the genre. The notion of “have a big heart and you’ll win any fight” can be rather repetitious after the seventeenth billion time the good guys come out on top.
Rather than going into detail as to how Attack on Titan subverts such things, I’ll simply say this. Game of Thrones is notorious for being brutally realistic, and rarely shows any sort of mercy to its cast. Attack on Titan does the same in the guise of a stereotypical action anime.
It’s quickly becoming not only one of my favorite animes, but one of my favorite shows.
Dexter- Ah, good ol’ Dexter. The one time ruler of Miller’s favorite shows, now deposed and a lowly commoner. Since season five, Dexter has not been able to come anywhere close to what it once was. While the past season or so have been ‘decent’, the quality is still a far cry from what I witnessed in the first four.
Season eight began with some promise, but has since fallen victim to the mediocre writing that has plagued America’s favorite serial killer for some time.
Spoiler warning for just about everything from season eight!
By episode nine I had realized something, this season hasn’t felt anything like a finale should. In fact, much like the major show-altering plot points from the past few seasons, the story has been interchangeable. There could be entirely different antagonists and story-lines, but the overarching narrative would not be affected to any dramatic extent. To put it bluntly, the characters are not leading the narrative.
But back to the whole “hasn’t felt anything like a finale should” business. What have been the biggest moments so far? Deb trying to kill Dexter and herself? Well that quickly undid itself, because by the next episode the pair seemed mostly okay. Hannah’s return? Not only was that obvious from the moment she disappeared last season, but it was done is such an humdrum way. What about Vogel teaming up with the Brain Surgeon? Well if you didn’t see her betraying Dexter before the end, I suggest you get yourself checked out, because that was telegraphed since episode one.
At first the toned down writing was a welcome addition which had me reminiscing of the earlier seasons, but the writers seem to have forgotten the entire series is ending in three measly episodes.
Dexter is a prime example of American television's biggest problem. Things have been dragged out for the sake of a few extra seasons. They’re essentially making things up as they go along, which isn’t the ideal way to tell a story.
Breaking Bad- Now here’s a show that knows how to go out with a bang. Unlike Dexter, the writers of Breaking Bad know it’s better to go out on top then act like an old sports star, dismissive of the clear signs of aging. The first four episodes of the second half of season five have been one shocking moment after another. Things only continue to get more heart-poundingly unpredictable as all the characters and plots come crashing down upon one another.
Now, I love me some Game of Thrones, it’s an amazing piece of entertainment which is currently duking it out with two others as my personal favorite. The first of those being Death Note, and the second being Breaking Bad. I’m a bit worried though. There’s still a whole lot of show ahead of Game of Thrones and that means there is plenty of time to screw things up. I doubt it happens, but typically the longer shows go on, the worse they get. Breaking Bad -as I mentioned before- smartly decided to end with the fifth season and it’s proving to be an excellent choice. The few flaws I’ve noticed are minor. As far as overall quality goes, it’s the best thing currently airing.