24 August 2015 @ 12:38 am
There's been some pilots for upcoming shows that have come out early, so I've gotten to try a few I was interested in. The first was Minority Report which I was a little skeptical of because I loved the movie, but fortunately it's a sequel rather than a remake. It also focuses on one of the characters I felt the movie failed to do much with: the precog Dash, ten years older than the end of the film. Here he's on his own, trying to help the people he sees in his visions, and he's a likeable mix of innocent and cute - I loved his little asides and warnings to people as he walks around. It wasn't the strongest pilot but it showed promise, both in its relationships and its set up storyline of Dash's search to find his missing twin. The other pilot was Lucifer which in all honestly I expected nothing from and watched out of boredom, but ended up loving best of all. It's fabulous to see Tom Ellis in something again, and he brings a dark charm to the role. I love how the show never seems to take itself seriously, and thus far strikes a perfect balance between sinister moments and humor. I also love the banter between Chloe and Lucifer, and how she's the only one he's unable to influence. Trixie is precious and I hope to see more of her, too.

Season two of The Flash has begun, with a cast shakeup and a somewhat different feel, while still being enjoyable so far. With his father thankfully freed but moved on, Barry is less driven and sadly more cynical than last season, with a lot of his innocence and faith gone after Wells's betrayal and the loss of two of his friends. I miss Eddie terribly, since he brought a lot of life to the show, and I loved his friendships with Joe and Barry. Iris seems to have moved on completely, more so than Barry, which is odd, but I do love that her friendship - and maybe more - is back with Barry, and Joe and Barry's relationship is as heart-warming as ever. Ronnie's death seemed needless and odd, but I'm glad Martin Stein has been getting more scenes as his friendship with Cisco, as well as having a supportive older adult around Star Labs, is a treat. New this season is Earth 2's Flash, Jay, and he seems nice enough so far, even if his retro helmet is more exciting than his personality. I'm not pleased by Caitlin practically drooling over him, though, considering Ronnie's only been dead a short time. Also new is Patty, who seems sweet but is so overtly a love interest and annoyingly over-eager and peppy I can't seem to warm to her character, and Jax who I actually loved and look forward to seeing more of.

Also current is season two of Z Nation which is enjoyable, although lacking some of the carefree fun of last season. While even more creative, unique, and often hilarious in it's plots, zombie kills, and settings - my personal favorite being the giant cheese wheel so far - there's more tragedy as well, highlighted by the loss of several characters, notably Serena, who was delightfully fierce and sadly under-used, Cassandra, who I expected but still held out hope that after a season and more being used by one person after another, she might finally get a break and become an interesting character, and worst of all Mack, who was not only my favorite in the whole show, but also the sweetest, most flawless character. To fill the gap there's Vasquez, and his sad backstory, dubious loyalties, and chemistry with Warren have endeared me to him quickly.

I discovered the short-lived series John Doe and fell in love with it and it's intriguing and sweet protagonist. It's the kind of show that's right up my alley - quirky, addictive, and offbeat, and I love John's extensive knowledge, mysterious past, and the oddity that he sees a few random things in color and everything else in black and white.

I've working my way through the brilliant but short-lived Miracles and it's amazing, a perfect mix of poignant character sketches and compelling, even chilling fantasy. Most of the episodes are moving, and some, like the scene where a husband discovers his disabled wife has been trying to tell him how much she loves him, or when Paul finally lays a little girl ghost to rest, leave me in tears. Paul, the protagonist, played by the extremely talented actor Skeet Ulrich, is a different sort of character than is usually found in these sort of shows - instead of the quirky nerd modern sci-fi seems so fond of, he's a gentle and kind person who cares deeply about helping the people he meets. The guest actors are always superb, beginning with the nuanced performance of the little boy who plays Tommy, the child healer who sacrifices his life to save a dying Paul's, and reoccurs as a troubled ghost from time to time.

I stumbled across the intriguing time travel series Seven Days, and while it took a bit, I ended up loving Parker, as well as the concept and style of the show.

I re-watched the pilot for the failed remake of The Time Tunnel since I hadn't seen it since I bought my DVDs of the original show years ago. The last time I watched it I was too distracted by paperwork to do more than fume a bit over Tony being a woman and everything being modern, but this time I gave it an honest try and was pleasantly surprised. It's a little rough, as many pilots are, but despite all the changes I was impressed by how well they actually captured the characters. Despite making Tony a woman, a lot of her character traits were familiar: her quickly formed bond with Doug, determination to save and help everyone even if it means bending the rules like letting the boy stay with the woman who cared about him, and her loss of a family she loved, all things essentially a part of the original Tony's character. Likewise the controllers at the Time Tunnel are the original blend of would be savior with slight hints of mad scientist over-reaching where they shouldn't and maybe even willing to sacrifice the travelers if necessary. Happily Doug was the best part. Ironically, although Tony is my favorite, I adore Doug, usually taking his POV in my fanfic, and relate to him in many ways, so one of the lines struck me; when Doug is told by his dying friend who he no longer remembers that he was "the loneliest guy" he knew. That was so perfectly original Doug. Underneath the knowledge and determination there's just this incredibly deep loneliness that always made me think that if he didn't have or lost Tony he'd have no one at all, since odds are he'll never get back to Ann. I would have loved to see a glimpse of the other new Doug, the one who didn't have the family, to see if he was the way I imagine, but it definitely gave me so many plotbunnies of an AU version. But still I adored his little family - his wife and cute kids - and was thrilled when they remained at the end, even when time was set back, even though I was sad that that meant Tony didn't regain her lost family, too. I loved David Conrad as Doug, too, since he was very believable as a modern day version of the original character.

I've been working my way through The Legend of William Tell this week, which I'd been meaning to see more of for ages, and once I got past the first two or three shaky episodes it settled into a comfortable, entertaining show. I love William. He's a unique sort of hero, young, impetuous, occasionally bratty, and not above making the wrong choice. He can be annoying at times, extremely easy to relate to at others, and I adore his constant impatience with Kalen. His team is likewise imperfectly yet easy to love: bossy yet good-hearted Vara who's friendship with William is one of my favorite things in the series, cute and wolfish child Drogo whose desire to grow up often causes the band trouble, hot-tempered, cat-like Aruna who commonly disobeys orders and is both a equal match for and romantic interest of William's. Only Leon, good and kind to a fault, seems a typical hero. The world building is quite fantastic, with an assortment of peoples all backed by the ever gorgeous scenery of New Zealand, and the one shot characters are easy to become invested in. Although it only ran a season the story tied up beautifully in the end in a satisfying, and adorable finale. I couldn't help grinning as Vara takes the throne with Leon and Drogo by her side, and William gets his little farm (it always broke my heart that all he really wanted was his home, not wealth or fame). But best of all, he marries Aruna who gets adorably assigned as his protector by Vara, a role she's basically played since the beginning.

I gave a try to the movie Lost In Space and was pleasantly surprised that it wasn't nearly as bad as everyone claims, and even included some fascinating elements. For one, I loved that Dr. Smith was completely evil instead of goofy - something I always loathed in the show - and his transformation into monster and near control of Will was fascinating. I loved the simple but effective sci-fi tech, especially Don's awesome helmet, the unusual medical bay, and the creepy spiders. While Maureen still had little to do, I liked John being more responsible for his family, and I loved the more tight-knit family unit - Don included - that formed during their adventures. I loved all the nods to the original show like the cameos, and the faithfulness of the characters - Penny's love for animals, Robot's catch phrase, and more. I also liked the enhancement of some elements, such as glimpses of Penny's crush on Don with a cute scene between them - I always shipped them far more than Don/Judy - and Judy being a much more intelligent, likeable character than in the show. Don, too, is a delight, capturing the cute mannerisms of show!Don - the wink was so much like him - and the intense hatred for Smith - I cheered when he punched him - while getting more of an action hero role and relationship with the characters other than Judy. I also enjoyed the time travel aspect, and the emotion when adult Will sees his family together again.

I finally saw the movie version of Dark Shadows and despite my dread it was surprisingly fun. It's far from a perfect version, to be sure, but it's a quirky, funny, and often clever spoof of and tribute to the original series. The house was amazing, and the characters intriguing and offbeat, making up for weaknesses in the plot, and the special effects were nicely done without being over the top.

I finally got to see The Avengers: Age Of Ultron and despite my very low expectations I ended up genuinely enjoying it. It's not the best Marvel film by any stretch, but it's definitely not the worst, and ultimately I view it as a good film whose writers made a few very regrettable decisions. The first of these was Natasha's horribly OOC character. Gone is the "love is for children" and the carefully guarded heart of gold beneath a seemingly emotionless exterior, with the writers having given her a personality change in the form of practically throwing herself at Bruce even when it's obvious that he's not ready to jump into a relationship. While I love romances in movies and could even buy Natasha having grown more comfortable and warmed up to the idea of love, Bruce comes out of left field as her love interest. The two barely interacted last movie - the main scene together being him in Hulk form attempting to kill her - and seem awkward and unconvincing around each other. Honestly, even as much of a Clint/Natasha shipper as I am I would have been fine with - loved even! - a Steve/Natasha romance which would have made far more sense. Or even Sam/Natasha who at least had potential last movie together. Even worse than reducing Natasha to a flirting love interest is the way the writers base her feeling of self worth on her inability to have children, leaving me wincing and appalled at her comparing herself to a monster just because she was sterilized against her will. To me this completely degraded her character by having the writers portray her as nothing since she can't have kids, and tearing down the strong yet caring woman of the previous films who easily held her own as the only woman on the team. Also there's Bruce. I'm obviously biased as I dislike both the actor who portrays him and basically any version that isn't Bill Bixby, but there was a lot of inconsistency in his portrayal, with one scene where the Hulk is seemingly unable to understand anything and then his last scenes where he's calm enough to rescue Natasha and even understand how to pilot the craft while in Hulk form. As Bruce, he's tragic but gets zero character growth, even losing the little confidence he seemed to gain last movie and then runs out on everybody at the end. And other than Tony he seems to barely interact or even fit with the other Avengers, leaving him the weak link in the group. In other low spots Pepper and Jane's absences are clumsily explained, the plot has jarring jumps that make little sense - like Ultron's escape after his introduction or the doctor doing experiments who is conveniently killed off - new characters given little introduction - Helen Cho - or technology - Tony wanting to create artificial intelligence when he already has Jarvis or the machine that makes Ultron his body. Still the movie shines with it's new characters: the creepy, twisted Ultron who, despite the lack of a convincing reason for his actions, still manages to be one of the scariest and most fascinating of Marvel villains, the complex yet seemingly benevolent Vision, and the twins with their close bond and fun powers. I adored them all, and look forward to seeing more of Wanda and Vision, as well as hoping that Pietro might be brought back to life in a future film - they've done it before for Coulson, after all. I also loved Tony, as always my favorite of the Avengers, even though he makes my heart hurt through most of his scenes, making bad choices but meaning so well. Clint finally gets to speak more than a few words, even some snark, finds some new allies, and despite my dislike of his insta-family - I think I could accept it better if they'd bother to even mention them before or give any indication he even had a family or home since it makes no sense that he could spend time with them and nobody would know about it accept Natasha - I liked Laura and his adorable little kids, and teared up when they revealed the baby's name. I did love that his bond with Natasha, even if only portrayed as friendship, was just as strong as the first film. The brightest spots of the movie are it's most emotional and personal - Tony's vision of his friends dead and him surviving alone or Wanda sensing Pietro's death and later killing Ultron.

I saw the second film of The Maze Runner series and despite some good points it was a disappointment, trading in the creative freshness and emotional core for the action and explosions typical of the genre. The overall tone took a sharp turn from sci-fi into horror with the zombie-like Cranks and the first third to half of the film was so different from the first film it didn't even feel like the same series. The flood of new characters mostly muddled an already confusing plot, and most of them, especially Brenda, didn't appeal to me at all. Still there were some excellent moments, especially the last third of the film when the pace slowed and some of the character study came back. I liked the glimpse into Teresa's past, and could sympathize with her betrayal, even as sad and wrong as it was. Thomas is growing into his role as leader and I liked seeing the flashback of him as a child. Aris was sweet enough, and I loved Vince who added a bit of spice and adventure to balance out the mostly teenage characters. The ending was haunting, and drew me back to the story enough to look forward to the next film.

I gave a try to Pan and while I adore re-imaginings and origins stories, I found it a mix of clever and bad. Peter was cute and determined, but often came across as annoying and full of himself, further worsened by the teeth-gritting trope of him being a "chosen one". Tiger Lily was a surprise delight, as was her sparks of romance with Hook and friendship with Peter, but the character got little depth and no moments to shine. I love Hugh Jackman, but he seemed miscast and over the top as Blackbeard, and even when the character was supposed to be sinister I couldn't take him seriously. Hook, however, was fun, with Garrett Hedlund making the most of his screentime. His friendship with Peter, and Peter saving his life when he falls from the ship, was both the highlight of the film and poignantly foreshadowing what they're eventually become, leaving me longing for a Hook redemption story after a sequel would show him turning into the classic villain. I did love some of the plot points, especially Peter being the half mortal son of a fairy, thereby explaining his flying abilities. The special effects were also lovely, with the mermaids, the "memory" water, the flying ships, and Peter flying carrying Hook and Tiger Lily among the bright spots.

I gave a fair try to The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie and much to my surprise ended up loving it. The sixties setting is fully meshed with the story, making it a delight to watch as well as filling in for the weaker spots of the plot. I loved the clothing, style, and most of the soundtrack. Gaby was a pleasant surprise, likeable as both the Innocent and a fellow spy, and her relationship with Illya was adorable, especially the height difference. Armie Hammer was wonderful as Illya, with the season oneish thick Russian accent and KGB background but with the added skills and tragic backstory that filled in the gaps in show!Illya's mysterious past. I loved the watch storyline, especially when Napoleon gave it back to him, and having him struggling with mental illness was an intriguing and well handled addition. Henry Cavill was my biggest challenge to overcome since I've always found him a tolerable actor but lacking in charm, especially for a character like Napoleon. But, while he doesn't have the charisma of Robert Vaughn he played extremely well off his co-stars and ended up being able to carry the role enough to make me love him. I loved the carried-over details like his suits and pinky ring, and adored the addition of him having been a thief, which actually fit in with the tv version's personality so well I could buy it without question. The origins of Napoleon and Illya's friendship was both hilarious and heart-warming, and I loved their files at the end. Mr. Waverly was too young but otherwise very much in character, and I couldn't stop grinning at the mention of UNCLE in the final scene.

In other films I discovered the unusual and hauntingly beautiful Swept From the Sea which had all the elements that have long been missing from modern period dramas: compelling characters, realistic emotions, and a believable love story, all of which today, sadly, seem to take a backseat to sweeping scenery and costumes, leaving the plot and characters weak and flat. Not so here, where Amy and Yanko are both poignant and instantly sympathetic, with their doomed, yet touching romance, and the secondary characters, from the doctor to his disabled patient, are all compelling, even with their hinted and half told backstories. The scenery is beautiful, but never in your face, merely enhancing the story like parts of the characters, drawing out Amy's wildness and Yanko's homesick strangeness. The movie also features one of the most beautiful scenes I've ever seen, the wordless and tear-jerking moment in which Amy tends Yanko in the barn, giving him bread, and watching silently as he kisses her hands. Next was the surprisingly excellent psychological study of morality in the midst of WWII with Hart's War. Colin Farrell, long a favorite of mine, was superb as the well-intentioned but over his head title character, and both the plot and score reduced me to tears several times. Next was the original Rambo: First Blood and despite my low expectations I was both impressed and completely enthralled. I love John, a good man who's been broken by the war, and I liked that the film didn't shy away from showing the affects of PTSD while still making John sympathetic instead of the typical villain, which was a breath of fresh air. The ending completely broke my heart, though. Next was the surprisingly fun Blood and Chocolate. I loved that it inverted the common tropes and took a more realistic view with the guy being the human and the girl the werewolf, him showing fear and questioning his safety with her, and how he used his intelligence rather than fighting skills to escape the hunt. I also enjoyed the setting and culture of the werewolves, and Hugh Dancy was so good at the role. Next was In Time, and I loved the world-building and plotbunny inspiring concept of the clocks and time being the currency. Will was a likeable protagonist, and I loved that he was able to save both himself and Sylvia in the end, as well as the stealing time concept. Next was the stunning and heart-rending Never Let Me Go which was without a doubt the saddest film I've ever seen, but also one of the most beautiful. With it's poignant, underrated performances from it's cast - I was especially impressed since I don't care for two of the actors - haunting storyline, and quiet questions of ethics and what makes someone human, it was a gorgeous film that more people should see. Next was Skammerens Datter. I loved how the fantasy aspect was only a small part, making the world seem more realistic and believable. Dina was endearing and refreshingly not pleased about or showy with her powers, and I loved her relationship with Nico who was a sweet and somewhat sad character. Rosa was also a surprise delight, and I enjoyed her friendship with Dina. I also loved the scenes with Dina's siblings and mother, showing how close they all were. Next was Byzantium, an unusual and beautiful vampire movie. I loved that the main relationship was a mother and daughter, and their backstory, while incredibly tragic, was fascinating. The unusual concept of how humans become vampires was intriguing, and the filming of the island scenes was stunning. Also interesting was Darvell's story, while secondary to the main storyline, and I loved that he followed them so many years and eventually ended up with Clara. The reappearance of the pearl was touching, tying the storylines together. Next was Das finstere Tal, one of the most gorgeously filmed and directed movies I've ever seen. The characters were a bit thin - although the cast definitely did the most with their characters, especially Sam Riley who conveyed emotions in his often silent character through subtle expressions and looks. The story was also straight-forward but never dull, with an offbeat premise and a '60s revenge western feel that came together flawlessly against stunning European scenery and buildings. Next was the earliest version of Snow White, a lovely silent adaptation. I adored seeing some of the inspiration for the Disney version, in the prince's clothes and the little birds, as well as brand new details, like the Huntsman's adorable little family, and the prince and Snow actually getting to know each other long before the usual version. The dwarves were also a delight, more distinctive from each other than in most versions, and the prince had far more personality than usual. Next was the short film 2081 which was superb and deeply moving. I found the strange world fascinating and the acting, direction, and music were all top notch, backing a simple but effective and poignant story. Next was Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans, which I'd been meaning to check out for ages, and it was absolutely breathtaking, a beautiful masterpiece of emotion and rich details. Next was Gaslight, a gorgeous and nail-biting noir with an excellent mood and ending. Next was a rewatch of Luther, the first film I ever saw in theatres, and it was lovely and fascinating. Next was the breath-taking Black Narcissus, without a doubt the most beautifully directed film I've ever seen in my life, and a haunting story as well with wonderful moody atmosphere. Next was the gorgeous and haunting End of the Spear which was incredibly moving. I've loved Nate Saint since I was a kid, and it was wonderful to see his story come to life. Next was Drums Along the Mohawk, a lovely Revolutionary War drama. I adored the love story, as well as the history, and the technicolor gave it a beautiful warmth. Next was The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men, which was my very first Robin Hood movie, and still a favorite of mine, full of whimsy and sweetness. Next was a movie from my childhood, the darling '60s version of Doctor Dolittle. Next was the adorable and underrated Song of the South which I loved. Next was Squanto: A Warrior's Tale, a moving and lovely account of one of my favorite historical figures, followed by the delightfully steampunk and entertaining '50s Disney movie 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

In new Arthurian movies I saw Arthur & Merlin which was a surprise treat. Despite it's small budget it managed to create an intriguing, fresh version of the legends, with a delightfully minimal amount of special effects. I loved the old world feel more rooted in reality, with the druids as the main antagonist, and a hinting of Merlin's backstory as the child of an unknown, otherworldly father. Merlin was a complicated mix of reluctant hero and gifted, slightly feral stranger, and Arthur was flawlessly perfect, loyal to the king and determined to save the kingdom, and noble to a fault. I loved the idea of Arthur as a child saving Merlin's life and later finding both Excalibur and Merlin again, but especially how the film toned down the "chosen one" aspects and presented much more ordinary people who became heroes.

In new animated films I saw Hotel Transylvania 2 which was nearly as cute and offbeat as the original. I loved the new characters, especially Dennis and Winnie, and even though I secretly wanted Dennis to remain human the little curly-haired bat was adorable.
calliope tune: "Faithfully"-Journey
feeling: excited