Review of Game of Thrones Season 5 Finale: Mother’s Mercy

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Season 5 of Game of Thrones just came to an end with “Mother’s Mercy,” an inconsistent episode with some truly great sequences in some areas but some frustrating moments in others. Unlike last year, when major climaxes were spread over the last three episodes of the season, every storyline reaches its climax in this hour. Obviously there is always more story to tell in the future, and finales have often serve not only to end season-long threads but tease future ones. However, “Mother’s Mercy” leaves many of the conflicts that had been built up to throughout this last season without their resolutions. Even some of the best sequences of this episode leave dangling threads to be explored in the future. The direction of many of the stories we’ve spent roughly ten hours following this year is uncertain – even for one of the seemingly more final fates of the episode! Despite a handful of truly wonderful and well-executed scenes, I found much of this episode frustrating and ultimately unsatisfying. Continue reading

Review of Game of Thrones Season 5 Episode 9: “The Dance of Dragons”

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Review of “Dance of Dragons”

The powerful but incredibly disturbing buildup to Shireen’s death weaved throughout Season 5’s ninth episode, and provides the most weight to this episode, good or bad. Because of the inconsistent material in two of the season’s weaker storylines, and the exciting but logistically problematic climax at Mereen, “Dance of Dragons” was the most mixed episode for me. I was thrilled, I was perplexed, and (concerning the material with Stannis) I was both viscerally angry and very impressed. “The Dance of Dragons” was imperfect, with one particularly well-done sequence that raises the quality of the episode, while also complicating my personal feelings towards it. Continue reading

Review of Daredevil: Episodes 7 & 8

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I finally finished season 1 of Daredevil recently. Man, what a great show.

But I haven’t been reviewing as I’ve gone along, so let’s go back a spell and look at where I left off, with what was perhaps the strongest one-two-punch of episodes in the show. (If you’re curious about my thoughts on the first group of episodes, here’s my review of the first three episodes, and here’s my review of episodes 4-6). Continue reading

Review of Game of Thrones: Season 5 Episode 7 “The Gift”

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When Game of Thrones visits almost all of its storylines, it can sometimes feel a little cluttered. Sure, we see everyone, but they aren’t given enough time for their character moments or their plot to really move forward. The seventh episode of this season, “The Gift,” was a major exception to that rule. Even as we visited every storyline, the characters were still given enough time to shine, and the plot moved forward in major ways, especially in King’s Landing.

We got a very brief glimpse of Jon Snow, on his way to a dangerous mission Beyond the Wall. His exit, though, gave us enough time for Sam to really breathe in his own storyline. His staying with Maester Aemon as he died was incredibly sweet, and also served to provide a powerful and poignant sendoff for a great, minor character who still managed to have a lot of presence for every second he spent on the show. Continue reading

Review of Game of Thrones, Season 5 Episode 5: Kill the Boy

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“Kill the Boy” is the most focused episode of Season 5 so far, featuring only four of the major storylines of the show. Oftentimes, focusing on a smaller handful of characters allows the show to take its time and really develop some satisfying material for each group (as opposed to making visits too brief to really leave a strong impression). I’m not sure this episode did a great job taking advantage of that laser sharp focus, though. Some of the plot developments felt rushed, the character interactions paled in comparison to previous episodes this season, and even the significant investment of time in each storyline only moves the respective plots slightly forward. Personally, (and I do feel like I’m in the minority here, so feel free to disagree in the comments), this was my least favorite episode of the season so far.

Maybe you disagree, but let’s just do some quick comparisons, starting with the character who had the most consistently strong material this episode (and season): Jon Snow. I really liked his scene with Aemon, and his advice to “kill the boy” and stand by your convictions was a great theme that felt present in other storylines (especially Daenerys’). I also loved his confrontation with Tormund, and then the Night’s Watch. This was the kind of political conundrum that I personally loved in the fifth book: Jon Snow is fighting for something that is unquestionably the correct move morally and pragmatically, but it seems almost impossible to lead others where he wants to go (even his strongest supporters). This episode put Jon in a more intriguing and perilous position, and strengthened him as a character. Continue reading

Review of Avengers: Age of Ultron

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Here is my review of the movie I (finally) saw last night. I feel like the last one in the world to have seen the movie, but just in case, SPOILER ALERT for details on the movie.

The Avengers band together again, this time to face a threat of their own making, a dangerous artificial intelligence created by Tony Stark to protect the world. It’s a very busy movie, featuring a huge cast of characters criss-crossing across numerous battlefields and multiple storylines. The character moments in the movie are very strong, but the story is juggling so much that the central storyline and the central players get lost along the way.

This is going to sound like a very critical review, but I do want to emphasize that I really, really, really liked certain aspects of the movie. Namely, I thought that (most) of the character-driven moments really hit home for me. My favorite scene of the whole movie, maybe, was the party that occurs near the beginning of the movie. The characters all have chemistry with each other, and the previous Avengers movie showed that, under Joss Whedon’s direction, they can sure deliver some one-liners. Continue reading

Review of Daredevil: Episodes 4-6

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Here’s a quick review of the next three episodes of Daredevil…

“In the Blood,” “World on Fire,” and “Condemned,” the series’ fourth, fifth and sixth episodes, respectively, nicely concluded the arc concerning the Russian gangsters. While I thought there were elements of the conflict that felt a little contrived, the events were exciting as always, and have successfully unveiled Wilson Fisk as an incredibly fascinating antagonist.

“In the Blood” gave us our first real introduction to Wilson Fisk, the awkward but brutal mastermind behind the crime organization in Hell’s Kitchen. We spend most of this time seeing him open up and try to swoon Vanessa, the art collector. I thought seeing this more vulnerable Fisk was very effective, especially juxtaposed with the violent end of the episode, in which he decapitates one of the Russian brothers with his car door (yikes). Continue reading