Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Doctor Who: "The Witch's Familiar" Review

After a less than impressive premiere, Doctor Who appears to turn things in the right direction with "The Witch's Familiar."

*Spoilers Ahead*
With Clara and Missy believed to be "dead," the episode opens with Clara hanging upside down by a rope and Missy sharpening a stick. Missy tells Clara of a story from the Doctor's early days and how he escaped invisible robots by turning their energy beams into energy for a teleporter, which is how Missy saved the duo. Briefly showing both Tom Barker and William Hartnell before Missy explains that the Doctor's face is not important is a rather inspired idea. The addition of the black-and-white grayscale effect added to the clip's classic feel as well, but that part did seem a bit like filler, albeit fun filler.
As soon as the episode starts, one thing stands out: Michelle Gomez as Missy. She finally manages to channel elements of the Master. For the first time, I saw her as the Master and not just "Missy," so that is a big improvement. The character's mix of playful villainy and actually helping the Doctor worked far better than before this time around. She genuinely helped the Doctor in a logical way, and yet she still pursues her own villainy things when the timing is right. With that said, Gomez is still not exceptional but rather just "good." 

One of my favorite parts of the episode is when Clara drives the Dalek. The conversation with Missy about how the Dalek's emotions fire the weapon and the lack of certain words in their vocabulary turned out to be an excellent scene. That one scene provided the audience with a deeper understanding of a Dalek's mindset than the entirety of the last few seasons. I actually understand so much more about them now than ever before.

Yet another great moment is the use of the Doctor's "Wearable technology," aka the "Sonic Sunglasses" as I like to call them. Surely this is not the true end of the Sonic Screwdriver, because it is just as important to the character as a Lightsaber is to a Jedi. Plus, it certainly can't help merchandising sells when fans can go buy a ten dollar pair of sunglasses at a glass station instead of a $60 Sonic Screwdriver replica.

The scene between the Doctor and Davros is most certainly interesting. On one hand, Julian Bleach's performance sells the emotion to a surprising degree. It actually invokes Luke's scene with Vader in Return of the Jedi, although such a "touching" scene between the Doctor and the creator of the most heartless monsters in the galaxy made something feel off. Thankfully, Davros was just playing the sympathy card to execute his nefarious plan. Then again, the Doctor did fall for it too easy. Davros literally said a few minutes prior that "compassion" would be his downfall. On the other hand, saying that also provokes the Doctor's sense of compassion, so while the motivation for his actions are shaky at best, it barely managed to work.

While Bleach and Gomez are the standouts in the episode, Capaldi is given less material to work with this episode. He does fine with what he has, but he is lacks the opportunity to impress. However, his scene with the Dalek-Clara is quite good, and Gomez's playful villainy really worked thanks to Capaldi's convincing performance.
The reason for the Doctor running and the briefly mentioned prophecy does give me a bad feeling that there will be yet another "monumental" finale. However, Missy potentially controlling the Dalek does open some interesting doors for future episodes, assuming the prophecy is, indeed, the setup for the season as a whole. Yet another mystery is the Doctor's confession, which probably ties into the reason he ran away. With all that said, I still have a feeling that some questions are better left unanswered.

Despite opening with two solid episodes, Capaldi's run as the Doctor is still missing that special indescribable element that makes Doctor Who so amazing and enchanting. Maybe, it is lacking a sense of wonderment, although last season tried and failed. Hopefully the middle section of the season can deliver the high energy adventures and creepy thrills that Doctor Who does best.

Overall: 7.5/10- While not exactly exceptional, "The Witch's Familiar" provided a strong second half to the lackluster opening act. It might have been inconsistent at times, but overall, it managed to wrap up the arc, expanding upon the Dalek's mindset, and all the while adding a bit of humor.

Note: Last week's rating should be changed to a 7.0/10, and if you missed that review, click here to read it.

What did you think? Please comment below and let me know! If you have reviewed the episode as well, post a link in the comments and I will feature your review below.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Top 12 Marvel Cinematic Universe Movies: Part 2

The Top 6, now we are getting to Marvel's premiere films; the best of the best! In my eyes, Marvel has four distinct tiers of quality. First are the almost universally agreed upon weakest films, The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man 2. Second tier includes the Thors films and The First Avenger. Tier three is the very strong, albeit not quite perfect, films of Iron Man 3 and the numbers 5 and 6 on this list. Lastly is the "Core Four" as I like to call; the final four films on this list. These are the four films that stand above the rest of the MCU, as well as the rest of its respective genre. For the previous part of the list, click here.

6: Ant-Man
Showing a more lighthearted and fun side to the Marvel Universe, Ant-Man is the best origin film since Iron Man back in 2008. It introduced us to a character with numerous faults, and yet Paul Rudd manages to make him one of the most grounded and relatable characters in the MCU. He is even a father; relatively new territory for superhero flicks. Everything about Ant-Man should not have worked. Honestly, the fact that the film received so many positive reviews baffles me, but it is most definitely deserving of every positive thing about it. Read my full review here.

5: Avengers: Age of Ultron
My initial review of Avengers: Age of Ultron might have been a bit too positive. In retrospect, the film certainly had its narrative flaws. It should have been at least 30 minutes longer, and inclusion of a romance took away from necessary plot development. However, where it faltered a bit narratively, it more than made up for with some of Whedon's most effective characterization yet. He dives into each the character's psyche and shows us what makes them tick. And in terms of sheer geeky awesomeness, Age of Ultron most definitely delivers thanks to the addition of unforgettable new characters like Vision and the Scarlet Witch. For more thoughts on the film, read my review here.

4: Iron Man
Before The Avengers, Thor, and Captain America, Marvel studios made a film that would be the foundation for all other Marvel movies to build on in the future, and they could not have kicked off the franchise any better than with Iron Man.

Casting veteran actor Robert Downey Jr. in the role of Tony Stark remains the best casting decision ever for any comic book film. From his chemistry with Paltrow to the adlibbed dialogue, Iron Man elevated every aspect of the film. Even after re-watching at least eight times, the movie never gets old, and that’s largely thanks to Downey.

Words cannot even express what it felt like to see Nick Fury stepping forward to say, “I am here to talk to you about the Avengers initiative.” At the time, it was only something that I could have dreamed about, and as a geek, it was about as good as it gets. To this day, it remains one of the defining moments of my movie watching experience.

3: Guardians of the Galaxy
Guardians of the Galaxy defied all expectations. Not only did it become highest grossing film of the year domestically, it shocked both fan and critic alike with its complete disregard of the conventional.

James Gunn's writing and direction is bold. He did not care about what audiences expected or even wanted. He told us exactly we wanted, and we all loved every minute of it. His style is in-your-face and unforgivingly his own, and that is my type of filmmaking!

Thanks to the stellar chemistry between the cast and Chris Pratt's innate goofball charm, GotG assembles a team of misfits unlike any other. It is like a combination of Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Mass Effect, and Firefly, packed full of 80s references, action, and absurdly lovable characters. Even if you have never seen a Marvel film, there is so little connection to the main universe that it does not matter, yet there are still plenty of Easter Eggs for the fans.

Guardians of the Galaxy is bold and audacious filmmaking at its finest with James Gunn's complete disregard of typical genre conventions that care more about making a unique film than a generic crowd pleaser, yet it surely does please. GotG is like a cult classic with lovable quirky characters and endlessly quotable dialogue, except with box office success and a big budget; what more could you ask for?!

However, I feel as though I need to watch it yet another time before ranking it at number two, which could very well happen in the near future.

2: Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Captain America: The Winter Soldier truly took me by surprise. I expected a fun action packed adventure with my favorite comic book character; what I actually got was something far superior.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a thematically strong film loaded with meaningful social commentary on the various aspects of politics, freedom, and government control. It uses the fact that Captain America is an unwavering force of freedom to convey the themes without ever coming off as pretentious. Everything expressed in the film is a core aspect of Cap's character, and that is exactly why it works so well.

Upon my second viewing, I watched the film with the intent of finding something wrong with the film, and yet I could not find a single noteworthy flaw. Of course, no film is absolutely perfect, but it is one of the most well crafted films that I have ever. Each scene flows into the next effortlessly. It takes big risks, and yet never falters. The plot functions like a well oiled machine, and yet it has an emotional core. While I am sad to see Joss Whedon not directing Avengers: Infinity War, the film is left in good hands with the Russo Brothers.

1: The Avengers
Could there be any other? Joss Whedon accomplished the impossible with The Avengers and that makes him mighty (Firefly reference). Never before has a comic book film been so bold and unforgiving in the fact that it is based on a comic book. It perfectly captures the spirit of the comic, while still being easily accessible to the general public, an impressive feat in and of itself.

Somehow every character is given their moment to shine, and Whedon's expertly written banter is pure perfection. Among the previously established characters, Whedon even managed to build Black Widow into a far more fascinating character than anyone could have ever realized, and The Hulk, who, at the time, never received a proper film adaptation, nearly stole the show.

The Avengers could have easily been a disaster if left in less competent hands. Behind all of the spectacle and humor, ultimately, the film has heart; that's the real reason The Avengers is a classic that will go down in history as one of the defining films of the our generation. Will Age of Ultron be able to best it....

For a future continuation of this list, I have considered ranking Marvel's TV series like Daredevil and Agent Carter alongside the films. Please let me know what you think of that in the comments, because it is something that I have wanted to try. 

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Monday, September 28, 2015

New Agent Carter Season 2 Poster

A new poster for Agent Carter Season 2 is here, and while it does not show much new, it is worth checking out. It has been a slow week of movie news, but be sure to check back tomorrow for the final part of my Top 12 Marvel Cinematic Universe Movies list and Wednesday for my review of the latest Doctor Who episode.

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Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Angry Birds Movie - Official Teaser Trailer

Angry Birds, the insanely popular mobile game, is now getting a feature film, and the trailer is here! And.... "I have a bad feeling about this." Seriously, this does not look that great. It does not scream a kid's film, and yet the humor is almost nonexistent, at least for me. Like just anyone, I have played Angry Birds, and while it is not a favorite of mine, it is a fun game to play when you are waiting around, or at least before I downloaded some comics and manga to read. Anyway, the trailer is giving me a bad vibe. It looks like a flop. However, the brand name of Angry Birds is likely to get butts in the seats so to speak, and Angry Birds is insanely popular with kids, as well as adults. The cast looks solid with the notable ones being Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Bill Hader, and Peter Dinklage. Also, the use of Michael Jackson's "Bad" is quite good. Otherwise, nothing about this trailer makes me think that the movie will be anything more than an average or below average animated flick. What think? Please comment below, and check out this live-action fan parody trailer made back in 2011.
Note: Netflix Picks return this week!

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Saturday, September 26, 2015

Netflix Knows Which Episode Gets You Hooked

Netflix recently released data on the watching habits of their viewers, which reveals that the pilot episode is not the one that gets people hooked! Below the graph is a full list including which episodes hooked viewers. 

Netflix is known for withholding their statistics from the public, so even the fact that they are releasing this is not a common occurrence. However, the results fascinate me. Arrow is a perfect example of a series that does not get going until after episode 8, and even my friend dropped the series around episode 6. On the other hand, fan-favorite Breaking Bad only required two episodes before the typical viewer is hooked. Considering both the series' quality and unanimously positive response from anyone and everyone, chances are, if you plan to watch Breaking Bad, you are going to watch it until the end. The larger number of episodes that Daredevil required did, however, surprise me due to how fast Netflix renewed it, and the series overall popularity. Other than that, these stats are intriguing for sure. Lastly, thanks everyone for the positive response to my new "Netflix Picks" series. Providing it remains this popular, expect a new post every week with a mixture of movies and TV recommendations! What do you think? Please comment below and let me know!
  • Arrow - Episode 8
  • Bates Motel - Episode 2
  • Better Call Saul - Episode 4
  • Bloodline - Episode 4
  • BoJack Horseman - Episode 5
  • Breaking Bad - Episode 2
  • Dexter - Episode 3
  • Gossip Girl - Episode 3
  • Grace & Frankie - Episode 4
  • House of Cards - Episode 3
  • How I Met Your Mother - Episode 8
  • Mad Men - Episode 6
  • Marco Polo - Episode 3
  • Marvel’s Daredevil - Episode 5
  • Once Upon a Time - Episode 6
  • Orange is the New Black - Episode 3
  • Pretty Little Liars - Episode 4
  • Scandal - Episode 2
  • Sense8 - Episode 3
  • Sons of Anarchy - Episode 2
  • Suits - Episode 2
  • The Blacklist - Episode 6
  • The Killing - Episode 2
  • The Walking Dead - Episode 2
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt - Episode 4

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Friday, September 25, 2015

Movie Music and More 28# : "Conspiracy Theory" (1997)

This is your friendly neighborhood Hamlette, here to discuss another beloved soundtrack with you.  Today, it's Carter Burwell's score for Conspiracy Theory (1997).  This is one of those albums that I have listened to so often, it's ingrained in my brain.  I don't actually listen to it that often anymore because I can pull up my favorite cues in my memory and listen to them there.

I'll start with the main theme, listed as "Conspiracy Theory" on the soundtrack.  It gives you a great feel for what the movie is like:  relatively cheerful, with a lot of energy.  The part that kicks in at 1:48 is my favorite -- that theme makes my consciousness soar.

That theme gets repeated in the score's final cue, "Riding," beginning right around 2:00.  I actually bought this score just for that theme, and I recorded just that thirty seconds or so on a cassette tape (yes, I am that old) over and over and over and over so I could listen to just it.  The rest of this track is nice too, beginning with a gentle tenderness that builds to a sort of peaceful anticipation, then explodes with joy.  But those trumpets are what really hit my sweet spots.  I see that whoever put this track on YouTube agrees, since they added that little tag to it, hee.

I also quite like "Turning into a Jerry" because of how it opens with tender simplicity, then switches to a nice jazz beat with an off-kilter and slightly menacing melody played over it.  It's short and tantalizing and leaves me wanting a bit more.  It's also a great musical depiction of the main character, Jerry Fletcher, who is also tender, off-kilter, and slightly menacing.

I wish YouTube had more tracks from this soundtrack for me to share with you, but those are three they do have that I really like, anyway.  I think they give you a pretty good taste for what the soundtrack as a whole is like, anyway.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

A Tolkien Blog Party of Special Magnificence -- 2015

It is time again for Hamlette's "Tolkien Blog Party of Special Magnificence" over on The Edge of the Precipice, and if you'd like to participate, here's the link. Now, let's answer the questions!

1.  What draws you to Tolkien's stories?  (The characters, the quests, the themes, the worlds, etc.)
Well, everything draws me to it. However, as in most great stories, characters are the most important and that's what keeps me coming back to series. Also, the world building is masterful.

2.  What was the first Middle Earth book you read and/or movie you saw?  What did you think of it?
The Fellowship of the Ring film, and it remains one of my all-time favorites.

3.  Name three of your favorite characters and tell us why you like them.
Sam, Gandalf, and Aragorn.

4.  Are there any secondary characters you think deserve more attention?
Boromir is not exactly a secondary character, but he is one of the more interesting and complex side characters.

5.  What Middle Earth character do you relate to the most?
Probably Sam; he is most normal guy in the story, and yet he is one of most inspiring.

6.  If you could ask Professor Tolkien one Middle Earth-related question, what would you like to ask him?
What is the fate of the various characters throughout the novels.

7.  Are there any pieces of Middle Earth merchandise you would particularly like to own, but don't?
A poster of either the Fellowship of the Ring or Return of the King.

8.  What battle would you absolutely not want to be part of?
The Two Towers; that fight was brutal.

9.  Would you rather eat a meal at the Rivendell or Bag End?
Bag end; some of that food looked great.

10.  List up to ten of your favorite lines/quotes from the books or movies.
"Then let us be rid of it... once and for all! Come on, Mr. Frodo. I can't carry it for you... but I can carry you!"
"You shall not pass!"
"One does not simply walk into Mordor."
“That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo… and it’s worth fighting for.”
“Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.”
“We swears, to serve the master of the Precious. We will swear on… on the Precious!”
“I am Gandalf the White. And I come back to you now… at the turn of the tide.”
“Oh, it’s quite simple. If you are a friend, you speak the password, and the doors will open.”
“A day may come when the courage of men fails… but it is not THIS day.”
“Your time will come. You will face the same Evil, and you will defeat it.”
“But the fat Hobbit, he knows. Eyes always watching.”

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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

10 Surprising Facts About Despicable Me’s Minions

Lights on Location returns with a writeup about box office giant Minions from the Despicable Me franchise!

What makes animated movies fun to watch is that the creators are not constrained with having to look for filming locations, making unbelievable creatures and even avoiding the laws of physics? The Despicable Me franchise was one that has become loved by many children because of its ridiculous premise and funny characters, one of which are the Minions. Now that they have their own movie, the Minions have become more famous than ever. You can see them in pens, t-shirts, tumblers, and other items. These lovable creatures have captured the audience in their simple mindedness and comedic mishaps. But even when they're well known, there are still things that the audiences might not know about them. Here's a list of 10 surprising facts about Despicable Me's Minions.

Fact #1: All of the Minions have male names
We don't know why that is, but all the minions have male names. Now whether this makes them all male or just loves the sound of masculine names is a mystery. They love to dress like a girl sometimes, so that just complicates things more.

Fact #2: Minions can breathe and live even in outer space
Minions are almost invulnerable beings that can survive anything you throw at them. They've been squashed, shrink, dropped, and they still come out feeling only a bit dizzy. One minion even survived outer space for a while after he was given a douse of the anti-gravity serum.

Fact #3: Purple Minions are evil because it exactly opposes the Minions in spectrum color
These cute little creatures can turn into horrible monsters too. When they do, their color changes to purple, which is the opposite of yellow in the color spectrum? These creatures will eat anything that gets in their way, which makes them terrifying to anyone in close contact with them.

Fact #4: Minions are now the official mascot of Illumination Entertainment
After the success that the Despicable Me movies have brought to their company, this animation film production company has adopted the Minions as their official mascot.

Fact #5: Banana is the favorite fruit of the Minions, second are apple and papaya
When children think of Minions, it's usually accompanied by the sound of Banana. As is the case with the Minions, they'll do anything for a banana. It's even one of the words that they can actually say correctly. Plus they made a song about it!

Fact #6: A third Despicable Me film is currently in the works and is set to release in 2017
The Despicable Me franchise has made over a $2 billion dollars so it's no wonder that they're making another one. Mark your calendars kids! It's still far ahead, but expects the film to come out in 2017.

Fact #7: Minions don't like to leave unanswered
You better make sure that you tell them your specific orders, or else they'll just stand there staring at you waiting for your answer.

Fact #8: Minions only have 3 fingers
As with all animated characters, the Minions are missing a few fingers. They only have 3 fingers, but that doesn't stop them from helping Gru with making any diabolical plan that he has. That being said, the other characters do have 5 fingers in the movies, so it's probably just them who has 3.

Fact #9: The population of Minions is 899 according to Pierre Coffin
Imagine having a family of 899 people that are all males. That would be unbearable. Luckily the Minions are fun loving creatures who just want to spend their time serving the most evil villain in the world.

Fact #10: There are 9 known Minion's names - Dave, Stuart, Kevin, Jerry, Tim, Mark, Phil, Bob and Norbert
It can be quite hard naming all 899 of them with just male names, but we don't know if their names repeat or it's individual to them. The only named Minions in the series are Dave, Stuart, Kevin, Jerry, Tim, Mark, Phil, Bob and Norbert.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Netflix Picks: 3 Movies to Watch on Netflix

Netflix is the most popular service for video streaming with literally thousands of TV shows and movies to watch, and the content that they provide is constantly changing, so today, I present a new series of posts: "Netflix Picks." It is a post series where I pick several movies or TV shows on Netflix that you might have overlooked. Even if you do not have Netflix, these are three great films that you should check out. Let’s get started.
Note: The following movies are available on North American (and possibly other regions) as of 9/22/15.  

The Sixth Sense
Before M. Night Shyamalan made awful movies, he made modern classics like The Sixth Sense. The film follows a young boy named Cole Sear, who can see strange things that others cannot, which frightens his mother. Psychiatrist, Dr. Malcolm Crowe, is hired to talk to the boy about what he sees and what might be causing it. However, everything is not as it first seems.

If you have yet to see The Sixth Sense, you have probably already had the film spoiled by now. However, if you have not been spoiled, you need to watch The Sixth Sense as soon as possible, because someone somewhere will spoil the film. It is a given, and if you are lucky enough to next to nothing about it, go watch it. It is one of the most intriguing films that I have seen, and Haley Joel Osment, gives an excellent child performance.
107 minutes
August 6, 1999

Ip Man
After The Raid, Ip Man is the quintessential martial arts film that everyone should watch at least once. The film stars Donnie Yen, so you might recognize him as being one of the stars of the upcoming Star Wars side-story, Rouge One, and if you are a Star Wars fan, Ip Man should give you an idea of just how kick*ss he is going to be in that film. Ip Man’s story is loosely inspired by the life of Ip Man, master of the martial art Wing Chun, and the man that taught Bruce Lee. While the film takes some drastic changes from history, the action direction is some of the finest you will ever see. For more about Ip Man, read my full review here.
108 minutes
18 December 2008

Breakfast at Tiffany's
From back when romance movies were actually good, Breakfast at Tiffany's is one of Audrey Hepburn most famous films and for good reason. While it may not be her best film or even the best romantic comedy-drama from the era, it is leaps and bounds ahead of just about all of the schmaltzy romcoms of today. As always, Hepburn is a delight in the lead role, as her grace and wit shine bright throughout the film.
October 5, 1961
115 minutes

Have you seen any of these films? Are you interested in them now? Please comment below and let me know.

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Monday, September 21, 2015

Doctor Who: "The Magician's Apprentice" Season 9 Premiere Review

Doctor Who returns for yet another season, or series rather, and it kicks off with "The Magician's Apprentice."
As always with episode reviews, the following will contain spoilers. So, if you have not seen the episode, go watch it and come back! And if you have also reviewed the episode, please let me know in the comments.

Opening on a battlefield on an unknown planet or time, a child is fleeing the conflict until he finds himself in the middle of a "Hand-Mine" field, which sounds as creepy and absurd as it looks. The Doctor attempts to save the boy with throwing him his screwdriver. However, the boy's name is... Davros, creator of the Daleks. 
We return to present day earth and all the planes in the sky have stopped. The cause: Missy, yes, as in the regeneration of the Master. Firstly, why!? While we all know that the Master cannot be killed so easily and that the FX for her "disintegration" looked more a like a teleportation, bringing the character back during the first episode is a bit much. Usually, when villains die in Doctor Who, there is often at least a season before their inevitable return. Thankfully, while Michelle Gomez is a bit on the annoying side again, she is better than before. Clara is called in to help with the plane situation, which leads her to team up with Missy to find the Doctor.
After Missy and Clara time-warp to the Doctor's location, they find him in the middle of an "Axe-fight" in Medieval Essex as he prepares for his "Death." After cheating death by receiving a new batch of regenerations, why exactly is the going to "die" again? We just went over his "death" not that long ago. The episode does little to explain why he believes that he will die soon, which is one of the weaker aspects of the episode. A little more is explained during the "The Doctor's Meditation" prequel episode, which aired on BBC America the day prior, although it seems that those in the UK could only see it in the theater. 
Otherwise, Peter Capaldi seems to have figured out what his take on the Doctor should be. He expresses a great degree of range as he plays the character with equal parts grim denial of his impending "death," but also with a "devil-may-care" recklessness. He looks and acts a little off-the-hinges, yet not frantic, which seems to be what he does best. The scene where he starts playing "Pretty Woman" and other epic guitar riffs is a particular highlight.

As the episode reaches its end, the Doctor, Missy, and Clara are brought to see Davros. If you have been watching Doctor Who since it started airing, like myself, it has been nearly seven years since we last saw Davros back in "The Stolen Earth" and "Journey's End" during season 4. So, unless you have seen either the "Classic Who" episodes recently or kept up with the fandom, some viewers might not even remember Davro. However, the series did a fine job at jogging the viewer's' memory by displaying clips from the old series, particularly a quote from Tom Baker's fourth Doctor, which is the basis for conflict at the end of the episode. Whether Classic Who fans will be excited or outraged by Davros' return is uncertain since they are such a fickle bunch. 

The episode ends on a high note with the Doctor preparing to "Exterminate" Davros as a child. Now that Davros has killed Clara and Missy, what will the Doctor do now? How will the Doctor work his way out of this moral dilemma? My worry is that he will find a loophole that is unnecessarily contrived. However, the episode does a good job at setting up what is to come.

Aside from those story flaws, the episode did feel like very little actually happened. Not necessarily in a bad way, but it was like the 1st Act of a film. Another issue is that the CGI was subpar, especially for a series premiere. The snake guy FXs were weak and the other FXs seemed off, yet not terrible. Lastly, is it just me or is Davros nearly incomprehensible? There is so much background noise, loud music, and voice modifying effects that understanding him is a struggle at times. Is it just me? Or is it easier for UK viewers to distinguish his words through the accent? Let me know in the comments.

Overall: 7.0/10- Serving as the setup for a larger conflict, "The Magician's Apprentice" presents a fascinating moral dilemma that takes the character back to his early days. However, the amount of setup necessary left me feeling like little to nothing happened until the final minutes of the episode. Overall, a solid start, albeit one that hinges on next week's payoff. 

What did you think? Please comment below and let me know! If you have also reviewed the episode, post a link in the comments and I will feature your review below.

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Sunday, September 20, 2015

DC's Legends of Tomorrow: Hawkman and Hawkgirl Revealed

New pictures from DC's Legends of Tomorrow reveal Hawkman and Hawkgirl. My first question is: Where are the wings? The "Hawk" in the title means that they should have wings. Due to the budget, I am sure that having actual wings all the time would not work, but I am interested to see how the series pulls it off. Considering how great the FX are for TV, I am it is going to work. What do you think? Please comment below and let me know! And check back tomorrow for my review of the latest Doctor Who episode tomorrow and the start of new post series "Netflix Picks: 3 Must-Watch Movies on Netflix" later this week. Also, if you have reviewed Doctor Who, please let me know in the comments!

Character from the Comics

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Saturday, September 19, 2015

Doctor Who Season 9 Premieres Tonight!

Doctor Who returns tonight with Season 9! Obviously, I am excited to see what the series will deliver in this new season. Granted, I am not too excited about the return of River Song, who has outlived her usefulness several seasons ago. Otherwise, my favorite show is back, and while there are certain things that need to change, I am excited nonetheless. Hopefully, Moffat, whose work I generally like, will step-down as showrunner next year and hand it off to someone else to give us a fresh take on the character. Of course, I will do my best to review each episode this season, so look for that soon, and I plan mix things up with other Doctor Who posts. Are you going to watch this new season? Do you plan to review new episodes? Please comment below and check back soon for new reviews!

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Friday, September 18, 2015

The Divergent Series: Allegiant Trailer and Title Change

A new trailer for The Divergent Series: Allegiant is out, as well as news regarding the fourth and final film in the franchise. Recently, I watched the first two Divergent films, and while there are nothing particularly great, they were decently entertaining flicks, and I will probably end up seeing this latest one in theaters. As for the trailer, there is not much shown. It mostly reuses previous footage. However, other news is that the last two films' title have been changed from "Allegiant: Part 1 & Part 2" to "Allegiant" and "Ascendant," even the final film is yet another splitting of the final film in a trilogy. In terms of marketing, this is probably a good idea. "Part 1 & Part 2" films are becoming far too common in recent years, and to the general audience, it could be a deterrent for some potential viewers. Titles like that essentially say “We are going to have a massive cliffhanger in the first part.” What do you think? Please comment below and let me know!

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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Top 12 Marvel Cinematic Universe Movies: Part 1

The Marvel Cinematic Universe, or MCU for short, continues to expand with the addition of Age of Ultron and Ant-Man earlier this year, so it is time again to rank all of the MCU movies from worst to first!
Marvel has revolutionized the film industry with the concept of a shared universe with characters from one film appearing in another, to the point where supporting even received their own television series! Ever since The Avengers swept the planet with its success, every other studio rushed to make their own cinematic universe and no other franchise is even close to Marvel's financial and critical success. In fact, the idea of a shared universe is essentially bringing the idea of the comics to the film medium. One key factor in the MCU's success is that there has yet to be a truly bad film. Not all of them have been great, but with two exceptions, the MCU is consistently high quality. The films establish these characters and the various films allow the audience to watch them grow and change throughout the course of several films. Now, without further ado, let's get this started.

Note: If you read my previous list, my thoughts on the films released before Age of Ultron are essentially the same.

12: The Incredible Hulk
The black sheep of the MCU, The Incredible Hulk has faded into obscurity almost to the point where it is barely considered canon. Sure, it is occasionally referred, but many aspects of the film just do not fit with the rest of the MCU. Part of this is due to Edward Norton not returning in The Avengers, which led to Mark Ruffalo redefining the film version of the Hulk/Banner to astounding success.

As for the film itself, The Incredible Hulk is a fun film. Nothing about it is remarkable, but it tells a classic Hulk story of Banner running from them military. For the type of on-the-run Banner that the film required, Edward Norton did a fine job in the role. Unfortunately, the film starts to fall apart towards end with the introduction of Major Emil Blonsky, aka the Abomination. The final battle between the two is entertaining for some CGI Hulk smashing, but that is about it. The other issue is that the budget and technology at the time could not create a Hulk comparable to the one in the comics. Overall though, it is a solid comic book flick.

11: Iron Man 2
Receiving more hate that it ever deserved, Iron Man 2 is very much a mixed bag. Certain elements are fantastic, while other aspects disappoint. The film tries to use the palladium poisoning as a substitute for Stark's alcoholism arc from the comics. While a few parts of that story as Tony tries to discover what is truly important is effective, it is ultimately buried by uneven pacing and too many subplots. Thankfully, Robert Downey jr. being himself is always a pleasure to watch, and his ad libbed banter keeps things interesting. 

The most notable criticism is that Iron Man 2 tries to be the bridge that sets up for The Avengers, and at the time, the executives at Marvel still had yet to figure out exactly how everything would come together, which is apparent in the film. The building blocks are there, but it is not integrated with the any form of subtlety like later the films. However, it is a necessary evil of sorts for use to get us to the ultimate payoff that is The Avengers. Oddly enough, I basically agreed with the majority that it was a disappointment upon my first viewing of the film (before I became a critic). However, after multiple viewing, its importance in the overall road to The Avengers and Downey's innate charm made me like the movie so much more the second and third times around, despite the messy narrative and apparent flaws.

10: Thor
Of all the Phase 1 films, Thor had the most potential for disaster! In fact, before watching the film, I feared that there would be no way that a Thor film could work in live-action. Thankfully, to my surprise, Thor turned out to be one of the films in a long line of Marvel productions that defy expectations against all odds.

Kenneth Branagh's Shakespearean background lent itself well to the film's theatrical family drama and archaic dialogue, which were one of the film's strongest aspects. The "fish-out-of-water" comedy with Thor is full of unforgettable lines that I still quote today, and the Final Act brought Thor’s character arc full circle. Branagh did use a few too many dutch angles for some reason. But as a whole, he managed to capture Thor and the world of Asgard in a satisfying manor!

9: Captain America: The First Avenger
Captain America: The First Avenger is distinctly different than the other Marvel films in both tone and style. Director, Joe Johnston, gave the film a retro period look that is reminiscent of older serials, while still being serious. The blend of styles works for the most part. However, the standout is Chris Evans as Captain America himself. As a Captain America fan since childhood, there was no character that I wanted to see done right on the big screen more. However, when Evans was cast, I was confused. He was a decent funny guy in Fantastic Four, but could he play Cap? And the answer was an astounding yes! The First Avenger was far from his best work as the character, but he really nailed the physicality and heroic personality that the character required.

In retrospect, Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter turned out to be pitch perfect casting with her spinoff series, Agent Carter, being one of Marvel's best works to date. Actually, if I were to rank Agent Carter versus the films, it would probably be number five (unless Daredevil counts).

8: Thor: The Dark World
Despite Thor being the titular character, we all know that The Dark World is the Tom Hiddleston show, as he steals every second of his screentime. Sure, his screentime may be limited to the first two Acts, but he eats it up.

However, of all the MCU movies, I have the least to say about The Dark World. There is nothing controversial or world shattering; it is a straightforward and entertaining adventure. The best aspect is the brotherly interaction between Thor and Loki, and visually interesting Asgardian world. I would say that it is about tied with Captain America and Thor on the list with Hiddleston's performance being the thing that barely edges the other two out, although could change upon later viewings. The Dark World place in the grand scheme of the Marvel universe has yet to be seen with the film's final twist setting up for Thor: Ragnarok in 2017.

7: Iron Man 3
Easily the most divisive of Marvel films, Iron Man 3 continues to leave the community split. Some continue to say that the film is a failure, while others, like myself, say that it is an excellent character study of Tony Stark, despite a few nagging issues.

However, the main point of contention is the big twist *Major Spoilers* that the Mandarin is a fake. Many viewers were sorely disappointed that Ben Kingsley's long anticipated role was all just a facade created by the trailers. For me, and a few others, the deception is one the best twists that I have seen in cinema. Right up until the release, the whole thing was kept underwraps; it is a real feat in today's world of trailers that spoil major plot points (*coughTerminatorcough*). For the first time, I was truly shocked by the turn of events, and for someone that often predicts what is going to happen next, it was a real pleasure to be genuinely surprised.

However, the Third Act suffers from a lack of a great antagonist. A better way to do the twist would have been to replace Guy Pearce with a Chinese actor, so that when he says "I am the Mandarin" the dragon tattoos and other things all make sense. However, considering the latest Marvel One-Shot about the Mandarin, there is a real one out there that we might see in the future. *End Spoilers*

As for the movie itself, Shane Black's witty script and Downey’s brilliant delivery make for an exceptional combination. Even if the plot is not as well crafted as the first film, the interaction, character development, and pure entertainment make it one of the most fun Marvel films to watch.

Thanks for reading this first part everyone! Check back soon for the second and final part.

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