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1. Lord of the Rings 2. Star Wars Ep IV –VI 3. The Godfather Trilogy 4. Toy Story Trilogy 5. Dark Knight Trilogy 6. Indiana Jones I-III 7. Alien 1-3 8. Matrix Trilogy 9. Back to the Future Trilogy 10. Die Hard 1-3 11. Harry Potter 1 -3 12 and 13 may be a stretch for some and I admit are not "true" trilogies. 12. Oliver Stone's ‘Vietnam’ Trilogy: Platoon, JFK and Born on the Fourth of July 13. Spielberg’s WWII Trilogy Empire of the Sun, Schindler’s List, and Saving Private Ryan.
So there you have it folks. My list of greatest "trilogies". I hope you enjoy it.
Man of Steel (2013)
All I can say is...WOW!
Like many, I was swayed by the amount of negative reviews Man of Steel received both by the critics and fanboys when it was released so I have just finished watching it. I really need to stop paying attention negative reviews.
I did not grow up a comic book reader. Before all this Marvel vs DC movie debate grew. if anyone had asked me to name specific characters per brand I would have been at a loss. Even now I honestly cannot tell you more than 3 DC characters; Batman, Superman, and Wonderwoman. But I am a huge comic movie fan (well maybe not Daredevil or Electra or Catwoman...funny how these were DC films but I digress).
Like many my age, I grew up with the Superman franchise being pretty much the only one of it's type until thankfully Burton released his Batman in 1989. Christopher Reeves was and will always be 'my' Superman.
Man of Steel is, for lack of a better phrase, bad ass!!!
I never go into a film like this expecting much of the way of a Sorkin script or Coppola direction. Perhaps it helps that I am not a comic book reader so my judgment is not biased by a character's historiography/ethos.
PLOT. I found the plot to be interesting and very entertaining. I really appreciate the long back-story introduction. It really did clear things up for me about why Krypton was destroyed and how Zod and crew really wound up in the triangle glass thingy (I was a kid so it made no sense). What little I do know about the original Superman comics is that he actually was never meant to fly so I liked how it showed his progress from essentially "leaping tall buildings in a single bound" (ie...jumping really high) to his eventually flight. I loved the whole spaceship/alien aspect of this film...after all Kal El is an alien so why not take that angle? The original film basically glossed over his entire life placing him in that chamber and then coming out many years later as Superman. I found that the actor choices were quite good including this Superman (I for one did not have a problem with Superman Returns but apparently everyone else did). I had already known that Zod was killed at the end of this film and that caused a huge issue with purists...but as I see it Superman did not want to kill him at all. In fact he begged Zod to stop and ultimately Zod's earlier statement of basically it's either you or me came true.
ACTING: Like I said I like all the casting choices. I thought Adams' Lane and Cavill's Superman/Kent had great chemistry and IMO the romantic tension was just right. Shannon as Zod was awesome although I did miss the English accent lol. No one can replace Marlon Brando but Crowe's Jor El was pretty cool...that whole beginning sequence was great.
DIRECTING: Snyder has been hated on (quite unfairly I think) ever since Watchmen which I thought was also far better than many gave it credit for but I had never even heard of the comic so I had absolutely no expectations. I thought his approach to this film was very good. Yes there is a lot of action but let's be real, these days people go to these types of movies for action. And even then I did not think it was over the top. The action sequences were well thought of and intense. Maybe a little less CGI but honestly how much of that could you really do 'in camera'?
MUSIC: John Williams score is iconic as are most of his film scores. That being said I have now 'rewound' the entire credits for the 15th time in writing this review. I am actually a musicologist and film music scholar so I think for once I am actually qualified to speak on this topic. I have known Zimmer's work ever since his score for Driving Miss Daisy and honestly I was never a fan. My own elitism had me hating on him for not even being able to read music (which still bugs the crap out of me I mean really after decades of composing you'd think he would have picked something up). I started to warm up to him with the PofC franchise and then I became a fan with Inception. But I truly think this score is fantastic. Zimmer's musical language has finally matured into something truly neo Romantic...big, loud, orchestral, dark, and consuming.
Is this better than The Avengers? Well they are different films but I would say no. Is it better than Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy? Not at all. But it is definitely a film not to miss especially if you love comic movies. And it does bring life back into a loved character and film franchise.
All this being said I would agree with many that I am truly doubtful about the whole Superman vs Batman as a follow up...with or without Affleck as Batman (which I think is terrible). I do feel it is a contrivance just to keep up with Marvel but who cares? Let them do their thing. There is great potential here. Why take the chance and ruin it...especially as a sequel?
Violet & Daisy (2011)
A Hidden Gem
Sometimes we luck out when it comes to films we happen to cross paths with. This is one such film. If you are like me then the Indie film party is one that you are always extremely late for if ever invited. I could have continued my life having never thought twice about this film as I had never heard of it. But luckily it had been posted on the web and I figured why not take a look. The premise of the film sounded worthwhile enough.
To say that this film leaves you refreshed is an understatement. There is none of the pretense, cliché, and other "Hollywoodisms" that clutter most films (don't get me wrong I love most Hollywood blockbuster flicks...even the 'bad' ones). The characters are simple yet compelling, quirky yet likable. The duo of Ronan and Bledel may at first glance seem like a very odd pairing yet they work as two sides of the same coin. Having only ever seen Bledel in Gilmore Girls and annoyed by her character I was pleasantly surprised by her ability to create a character of such depth. Ronan does not cease to impress me. Having already seen her in City of Ember, The Lovely Bones, and Hanna she has already proved she has a wide range. But through all her caricatures she still remains very genuine and likable. James Gandolfini was stunning in the subtle way we projects his character. You feel for his character and nothing about him is contrived. It is only more disheartening by his real tragic end that perhaps adds to his performance.
Is the film perfect? No but then again perfection is such a subjective quality. I gave the film an 8 probably due to the fact that a film such as this deserves a few viewings to truly appreciate all the nuances that occur.
I may be totally off base but this film reminded me of a Wes Anderson creation (if he had a morbidly quirky twin that is). Though the female duo are technically murderous assassins for hire, there is nothing sinister about them. In fact the whole aspect of murder just lends itself to the quirky underpinning of the film as a whole. The film has its comedic moments which lighten the mood which could have been completely dark and depressing.
I am not sure how the film has been received but hopefully it will be recognized by the awards community.
Definitely worth watching (even if Indie/art-house films are not your thing...join the party)
The Legend of Korra (2012)
Still ambivalent towards Korra
I have tried to like Korra but I am still very ambivalent towards her and the series in general.
The fact I have at times begrudgingly watched it is disconcerting because without hesitation I will watch the original. I will admit that as The Legend of Korra dragged on toward its book one conclusion the narrative got much better (the ending was awesome). In fact I would say if not for the plot, I would not still be giving this series a chance.
But plot is only one aspect of an entire narrative is it not?
The characters are thinly-veiled attempts at being unique but this veil is easily lifted once you take a closer look into each character. I understand the necessity to create different characters but they still have to be compelling. What makes the original so amazing are the characters; their development, their backgrounds, and ultimately their connections with each other and the overall narrative. Even minor characters such as the Earth King, Jet's crew, Hama (the blood-bending 'Puppet Master') and even the Cabbage Man all were intricate characters that were compelling and led credence and depth to the narrative.
I do not find myself interested or invested in any of the characters in the Legend of Korra.
Obviously Korra is not Aang but creating a character who is the complete opposite of him is just not appealing. I am not alone in this assessment. When her character first appeared she was arrogant, brash, rude, hot-headed, stubborn, and just plain unlikable. She had no regard or respect for authority and quite frankly made it to the end of book one despite herself. I thought though might have been the point...that a person can grow despite constantly getting in her own way. But NO...she has not changed at all other than being able to go into the Avatar State. She still has this unfettered contempt for authority and is quick to blame everyone else for her shortcomings except herself. Maybe the writers are creating another twist but it was clear that her uncle is the antagonist of book two and Korra's blind willingness to believe everything he says is just another sign she has not grown as an individual at all.
Her entourage is even less appealing than she is. "Team Avatar" was amazing. Each character was compelling and all the surrounding characters were equally compelling. Zuko's character was perhaps the most compelling character I have seen in an anime. But does anyone truly find anything intriguing about Korra's team? Mako and Bolin are boring. Their back story, while trying to be sad, is uninteresting. Bolin apparently is supposed to be the Sokka-esque comic relief character but he just wounds up looking like a bumbling idiot. Assami is intriguing to a point but I still do not find myself caring about her. The list goes on.
I fully admit I am biased. I consider Avatar: The Last Airbender to be one of if not the greatest animated series of all time (and I have seen way too many to count) and maybe my expectations are unrealistic. I truly want to like Korra but the writers are making it really hard (what happened to Aaron Ehasz by the way?).
Maybe my ambivalence toward Korra can be explained in the juxtaposition between characters and plot.
There is no doubt that the characters drove the narrative in the original. We learned to love (or loathe) each one of them as the series progressed and the narrative needed each character to be successful. The Legend of Korra, HOWEVER, is plot driven. The characters seemingly exist only to implement the narrative. Korra is in every episode because she has to be as it is her show, but would we really miss her if she was not in an episode? I am not so sure. Actually one of my favorite aspects of the book two premiere was the subplot that seems to be developing with Tenzin's daughter (sorry I do not know her name).
Ultimately what is my take on The Legend of Korra?
Is it a good show? YES...it is a good animated series. Better than a majority of new series currently airing. The animation is drawn beautifully and in HD it is quite amazing. The story is compelling in spite of the characters within it.
Is it a great show? NO...without characters that are compelling and to actually care about I am not interested in this show like those I would call 'great'.
Is it worth watching? ABSOLUTELY...as stated above it is better than most new shows airing (I continually say new because if Nickelodeon aired reruns of the original at the same time I would watch those instead. Ooh...this would be quite interesting to see what would happen. Who would win in a head-to-head battle of airing? Ultimately I do not think Nickelodeon would take the chance to find this out but I would be very interested in learning the outcome of how many viewers would watch each show airing at the same time)
I did give this show a 7/10 which is an increase from the initial 6/10 I gave the show last season. Perhaps I will increase it again...only time will tell.