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The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
I found this film to be a great completion to the films. Nolan really knows the themes of Batman and the psychology of the characters impeccably. The end of the film is satisfying. I've heard some criticism that the story was too complex, but I really don't agree. Nolan really uses this story to complete the other 2 very well.
Nolan tries to do what is unexpected in a story as much as he can, and I believe with the cards that he was given he accomplished that very well. The story is realistic. Previous Batman stories (or other superhero stories) make their characters larger than life. I would say Nolan brings the excitement and drama without doing that. 'Who would these people be if this was a real story?' That's the question he's said that he has asks himself when writing these films, and in that goal has succeeded.
This is a crime drama more than it is super hero film because Bruce Wayne is not "super"; he's a broken man fighting crime outside the law. The ultimate theme of this film is "Rising from Loss", and I believe this theme is something relevant to everyone on the planet who has experienced loss of any kind. Will it beat me? Will it define me? Will I rise up beyond that to salvage a life? Will I seek God? For so many people in the world, losses define existence, influence choices for the worse, and may leave so many in a place they can't escape. Nolan paints the soul defining experience for what it is, the most difficult trial that anyone will ever face on this earth. The elements in this film that touched on these things were some of my favorite scenes.
As to the film's intensity, I would say it would be ranked in between the 1st and 2nd film. The 2nd film was one of the most intense things I've ever seen, the 1st wasn't, and the 3rd was medium in that manner. I think Nolan did that to make his villains more ingest-able to a slightly wider audience, and that was probably a wise thing to do. Bane is a scary character, but there is no villain that I've ever seen on film that is scarier than Ledger's Joker. Rationalized evil is one of the scariest things on the planet (which in a sense is what organized crime is). Seeing into the mind of that is horrifying. It's cool to see Batman take a swing at that, but a slightly milder villain accomplishes the goal without being taken into an evil mind so deeply.
Great film at many levels. Great work Mr. Nolan! I'm looking forward to your next projects.
Star Trek: Voyager: The 37's (1995)
Great Dilemma Needing More Flesh
One of the great things about a story of a lost crew trying to return home is the moral questions it faces. This episode created a great moral question: "If we found a human civilization far from home, should we join it or continue home?" I think it was a great question, and I wish it was a longer story arc. It would have been great to see different parts of the crew agonizing over the question, some leaving or some people from that human civilization joining the Voyager quest home. This episode didn't change the story of the series. If I didn't watch this episode, it wouldn't have added or subtracted from the story. Meeting Amelia Earhart was cool, but this story didn't effect the characters or the direction of the story. I really wish it would have. This story had a lot of potential to be a really good piece of science fiction. I'd still say that it would good, but it's like having good ideas without a good story.
This first episode gives me much optimism that the show will be very good and very gripping. Lots of characters and names are integrated in the show that if you knew who they were, it would be foreshadowing from the comics in what they will do in the future (I love it when they use comic characters in a comic show). This may not be the Dark Knight, but in many ways it seems to be the closest television form to the Dark Knight in story style with this retelling of the story of Oliver Queen. The episode had a more 'real' feel than most comic stories. It feels realistic, and the cast was awesome. It's fresh, in some ways unique, and I'm anticipating next week's episode of the famous Emerald Archer.
"I came for Mauk-to'Vor"
The cultural ethics in this episode raises many questions in the morals and ethics that are different in our own world. Is murder ever not murder? Is rape ever not rape? Is theft ever not theft? Kurn comes to Worf as a man who has lost his life, his honor, and his future. He has come to die, and he wants Worf to kill him in an accepted Klingon ritual. We have an impeccable ability to explain why what we do is right. The question is, is there a right and wrong that transcends all cultures and determines what is really right and really wrong? This is Worf's ultimate moral dilemma.
This is a great story because it connects to Kurn, a great character from TNG. The plot about the Klingon's mining space outside the Bajoran sector is intriguing. The acting is impeccable, and the ending of the episode may not be the most expected. This story also brings great character development for Worf and his continued journey as a dishonored Klingon.
Man of Steel (2013)
New Perspective :: Very Good!!
Being a big Superman fan, I found the film very refreshing to be retelling story elements in new ways. It kinda had the the 'Nolan' feeling of trying to make the story as rough and realistic as possible in telling a science fiction story. The story departed from some traditional elements of most Superman stories, but I think it played into a strength more than a weakness.
The first element that is different is Krypton. It's not the ice kingdom with crystals, but a place that looks like something out of Avatar. It looks foreign, fantastic, and just an exciting world. A related element is that the Fortress of Solitude ends up being a 20,000 year old space ship, which is cool, but it deviates from the picture painted from the Donner, Singer, Gough & Miller films of a crystal fortress growing out of the ground. It's a fresh perspective.
I loved how they made Clark this wonderer going throughout the world trying different trades for years with no attachments. This element made his character so real. For a guy that has to keep his life a secret to the world, this element in the story made his character connect so well with audiences. He has a lot of uncertainty, but he also has talents that he must use in secret. His life also leads bread crumbs for the famous intrepid reporter, and I think the twist in the next element is the most fantastic of them all.
Lois Lane started off as a pretty oxymoron character when these stories were starting to be made a century ago. She figured out secret plots in every story, except for the her closest co-worker was Superman. The Gough & MIller films try to flesh out a better version of telling the story where it makes better sense and Lois is not stupid, but this film hits it perfectly. Having her know his secret from the get-go explains their closeness and it makes her a deeper character that isn't stupid at all. That element was awesome!!
There are NO GREEN ROCKS in this film. I found it surprising, but at the same time a fresh perspective. Superman must have a weakness for there to be plot otherwise he wins in the first 30 seconds of conflict. But developing how he gains his strength slightly different in this film than any other provides strength & weakness in different ways. Though it deviates from most Superman stories in this area, I still think it's a strength to the story telling.
The only thing that was really strange to me was an explanation about the DNA of the population of Krypton being hidden in Clark's cells. The information didn't make sense, and it distracted from the story telling (not a big deal though). My other difficult questions I had were about how much of the city of Metropolis was destroyed. The magnitude of the destruction to the city was fairly massive. The next film shouldn't have the city reset to perfect.
Loved how there were 6 Smallville actors in the film, and many minor DC comics characters integrated into the story. Great performances from the entire cast; the Superman story was really brought to life in a new, fresh way.
"You betrayed your uniform!"
This episode is one of my favorites. Maquis stories have a certain level of grey because you can empathize with both sides of the argument. The theme of this episode is highly borrowed from Les Misérables, which is really cool. What you see in Sisko and Eddington is both 2 unstoppable forces collide. Eddington is trying to protect his cause to protect these border colonies from their very really danger with lethal force, and Sisko is trying to protect the peace.
I would say this episode shows one of Brooks' highlighting performances in the show. Sisko is obsessed in finding the man who betrayed him. You see that he's willing to do anything to get that man for the sake of his uniform. This is DS9's strength. The stories are built on previous stories. The stories are layered, there's an actual villain that continues to come back, and the problems don't get solved completely by the end of the episode (it's real).
The intriguing thing about these stories is that people who live out on the frontier have to fend for themselves. What code should you live to? Do the laws matter? Is our distant government still our government if they are making decisions that change our lives and not their's? Are there bigger stakes than your life and your community to make decisions about (for Star Trek war in the Alpha Quadrant, and in reality for us global war?) Our decisions effect people we've never met. There is a real tension between that which makes Michael Eddington both a hero and a villain. He protected his people, he attacked the enemies that attacked them, but his actions (as well as the other Maquis) also incited war on a massive scale that eventually killed billions in the story. It's a paradox.
How should we then live? Do we protect ourselves when we are threatened? Do we get involved in other peoples problems? Do we protect our homes when they are destroyed by our enemies? How do we long for realistic peace in the face of violence? Sisko did this by upholding the treaty, and Eddington did this by taking up arms and protecting the innocent (also by becoming not innocent himself). Battles are fought by out-doing the opponent. If the opponent has no rules to war, you must also have no rules to war yourself to survive. But is this right? No, it's not. You may win the battle, but you have lost your humanity in the process for fighting for your home. Is it worth it? War is never worth it when there could be a path to peace. We 'turn the other cheek', which may be foolish to many, but it gives grace to our enemy who may not give that same gesture to you. It doesn't matter though. Loving our enemies speaks greater than taking up arms for a cause. Is this idealistic? I believe not.
Arrow: Honor Thy Father (2012)
Still Very Riveting
This second episode has me locked in the story; I'm really enjoying this retelling. All the characters have an edge, and Stephen Amell does an amazing job playing the dual identity. His character really is 2 different people. It makes sense, and it brings flesh to the comic. The way the story is written, it is very believable. Some of the plot structure may be predictable in this episode (and that's not bad by any means); it's just comes with the style of story. In this retelling that is more detailed than anything captured on film about our Emerald Archer, we see layers to these characters and something very gritty. I wonder what the focus of each of these future seasons will be will be; I can't wait. Having 'China White' in the episode was great too. I'm looking forward to more DC characters being woven into this story.
We Bought a Zoo (2011)
20 Seconds of Courage
I enjoyed this film in many ways. The story elements had something for a wide audience to connect with, it wasn't cheesy (though it had this 'happily ever after' kind of feel to it). Some stories are there to inspire people, and a guy using his entire inheritance to buy a zoo without knowing he'd succeed is pretty epic. I connected much with the scenes about dealing with grief. Those are universal emotions that all people deal with at some point in life in many ways. I appreciated that it wasn't wallowing, made lite of grief, or overdid the parts to this story in any way. Grief was portrayed in a realistic, healthy way. Much can be taken from this story that's positive to applying to life today. No, everyone doesn't need to buy a zoo, but life is an adventure, one that should be embraced with a thorough optimism of "Why not?" and facing every scary choice with 20 seconds of courage.
Star Trek: Voyager: Initiations (1995)
I think that the ending to this episode carried a tenacity of how ruthless Kazon are. Part of me really wants this show to be more of collecting stragglers to join in their mission to go home, and what if there were a rejected Kazon boy on Voyager becoming a part of the crew? It fits Janeway's character (and they do this with other characters in future episodes), but I returned to this episode saying, "Why didn't they add this boy to their crew?" I think the answer to this question is the Kazon boy's tenacity is more ruthless than a Borg. He wants to earn his name, he wants to be a Kazon (individually), and that kind of boy would never join a quest willingly to go to a new distant home called earth with a bunch of strangers. Fascinating story, and great to see Aron Eisenberg come to Voyager.
Star Trek: Voyager: Day of Honor (1997)
Honor & Conscience
You see 2 conflicts play in this story for both 7 and Torres.
I like how they write that 7 has no remorse over the destruction of civilizations. It makes her real. To a Borg, it's what they do and it's who they are. To them, it's not hatred as much as it is the greed of knowledge. 7 has no conscience (no ability to identify right and wrong), and she begins to have one by the end of the story. She senses hostility from the crew, and yet she has no idea how to react to it. It's like seeing some who doesn't just have no people skills, but she's never reacted to anyone. It's like watching Data on TNG, but it's grittier. She's a villain turning into a hero. It's as if she's thinking and interacting with a real group of people for the first time (because the character really is). Fabulous writing.
Torres is ashamed of her cultural heritage thinking it to be pointless and foolish. How many of us think the same way (such as family rituals, religious customs, and holiday traditions). If we don't value those things, how can they be important? What does the practice mean? Usually, those in a big family value the rituals, customs, and traditions because it brings them together. It gives them an identity as a group. But for those who don't have those kinds of things (such as Torres), how can she value that identity when she has no group to share it with (who values the same rituals, customs, and traditions)? If she values those things, she'd value them for herself, her unique identity, and her Klingon heritage. It would ultimately make her a culture of one. In the end of this story when she faces death, she wants what her people want "Honor", the thing that all Klingons long for and cherish: praise of accomplishments, actions worthy of song, and a place in history. It's not the most humble ambition to have, but Klingons aren't humble. They want people to think that they are great.