What I Watched in February 2016

Movies

Jane Eyre – This is a good adaptation of one of my favorite classic novels. Fassbender and Wasikowski give really good performances as the lead characters and it is moody without being completely oppressive. Like all adaptations, it is missing some things from the book that I love, but it is still a very good version of this story that retains the core. ****

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies – review here. **1/2

Hail, Caesar! – review here. ****1/2

Zoolander 2 – review here. **1/2

Snowpiercer – This is an amazing film. The world it presents is just so weird and awful that it is hard not to get caught up in the protagonists’ quest. It’s got some really great action scenes and Tilda Swinton is perfectly awful as the villain early in the film. You should see this movie. ****1/2

Man of Steel – I rewatched this because with Batman v Superman coming up people are letting fly remembering how shitty it was, which didn’t match my recollection. While I have some fundamental problems with this version of Superman, this is still a largely enjoyable movie. If it weren’t for the pointlessly destructive fight at the end and the worst possible Pa Kent, I would call it damn good. ***1/2

Deadpool – review here. **1/2

The Wolverine – This movie oscillates between being a somewhat thoughtful, interesting superhero adventure and the goddamned dumbest thing I’ve ever seen. It comes really close to being the Wolverine solo movie that everyone has wanted since the first X-Men movie, but the last big action scene is just painfully bad and stupid. The rest is too somber for a the campy action movie it is and too stupid for the mournful action drama it wants to be. I might be tickled to see Wolverine give himself open heart surgery while people swordfight on top of him, but it is really, really dumb. ***

The Punisher (2004) – It is a bloody, violent cartoon. It is set up much like a call back to revenge movies of the 70s and 80s, but it also has a lot of Western overtones. But it is just too stupid to really pull it off. The darkness of it is constantly offset by stupid one liners and clownish characters. Not much to recommend here. *1/2

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny – see review here.  ***

TV

Marco Polo – This show has a lot going for it, from a great concept to really high production levels, but it just isn’t that good. The protagonist doesn’t quite sell the emotion and the show takes way too long to establish its characters. It sort of meanders through some vaguely interesting scenarios without ever really giving anything any personal stakes. I think Netflix renewed it for a second season, I hope they work out some of the kinks.

Mad Men S7 Part 2 – If I didn’t know that everything I would want to write about this show has already been written I would try to examine this show in depth. It is worth it, but it has also been done and by better writers than me. This last batch of episodes is an odd yet oddly perfect ending to the show. It gives the characters an ending without actually making it an ending because life goes on. I like to think that Don has found some peace by the end of the series, after spending the whole show avoiding the lie that has defined his life. Great, great stuff.

Poirot S7-9 – This show gets a lot stronger when the episode length gets trimmed by about ten minutes here. It just feels snappier. I don’t know that I have much more to say about this show. Its good.

Broadchurch S1 – It plays out its mystery slowly, really letting the viewer come to know each character and formulate theories about who the killer is. Broadchurch succeeds more on the quality of its performers than anything else, though. It probably didn’t help my enjoyment that I saw the somewhat mediocre American remake first, but I liked this well enough that I’ll be back for what I’ve heard is the disappointing second series.

Fuller House – Terrible, corny schmaltz. It isn’t even on the level of the original series, which was never good but did occasionally provide some corny entertainment. This is incredibly badly, lazily written. The bones are here for a moderately good show and all the adult stars are capable, but the material and the children really let them down. Those with fond memories of the show should likely check out the first episode, but know that miserable half hour is the pinnacle of the series.

Supergirl – This show isn’t quite Flash good, but it is charming and Melissa Benoist is amazing. The first episode after the initial 13 order felt like a little bit of a realignment, which I think this show needs. It has a few too many characters that aren’t really connected.

The Flash – Hoo boy, this months’ worth of episodes were something else. While the Zoom story in this season is turning out to be an inferior retread of last season’s Reverse Flash, the individual episodes have been largely very good. Take the most recent one, where the Flash faced off with King Shark. It was amazing to see King Shark on TV, but it was also just another monster of the week episode. The Earth 2 episodes, though, were great. I can’t wait to see this one come down the home stretch.

Arrow – This is turning into a bounce back season after the disappointing last season, but it still isn’t on the level of The Flash. The Vixen episode was pretty good, but the quality of this season is going to hinge on how well the central arc with Damian Darhk is tied up by the end. I do have to say that the flashbacks have become incredibly pointless and disconnected from everything else. I hope they drop them entirely next season.

Agent Carter – I missed the last two episodes, but the rest of this mini-series has been excellent. I don’t know that I like it as much as Supergirl, but it is more focused and it is certainly better than Agents of SHIELD.

DC Legends of Tomorrow – This show is not good in any real sense. It provides remarkable action on a TV show budget and has a handful of performers who are just a blast to watch, but it doesn’t really feel like doing anything with all of its characters. It has lots of action and brings in an absolutely absurd number of great concepts, but a lot of the plotting feels like unfocused wheel spinning. Really, it is the TV equivalent of a middle of the road crossover event. While I acknowledge its flaws, I am still enjoying the crap out of this show. It is some great cheesey entertainment.

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