April 1, 2016

Screens & Scenes: March 2016

I'm always surprised whenever I do these monthly round-ups of what I've been watching, because I apparently have been consuming more films and television shows than I am even conscious of. It's a pleasant surprise, obviously, as I'm a fan of well-done storytelling and well-developed characters in any medium. Here are the things I watched during the month of March!

Batman vs. Superman, Dawn of Justice: I honestly found this film to be good, in spite of the fact that it has a pretty slow start. Still, these characters – especially Affleck’s Batman, Cavill’s Superman and Gadot’s Wonder Women – are really portrayed well, and it’s probably the first time I’ve seen a DC film where I was really satisfied with the casting. (I’m going to have to take a moment to mention that Gadot is a total scene stealer as Wonder Woman. I can’t wait for her solo film!) This narrative really came together somewhere in the middle of the film, and I basically liked just letting the plot unfold as it would. Solid film overall, though you need only see it once. (The soundtrack was phenomenal, by the way. Just thought I’d mention that.)

Shadowhunters continues to get better with every week, and I continue to find it enjoyable. While I’m still not overly fond of Clary or Jace on the show, I really, really, really find myself falling deeper in love with Magnus, Alec and Izzy. They’re doing an admirable job having these characters grow, and I look forward to more! Also, The Magicians continues to be, well, magical and odd and compelling. Julia is still my favorite of the characters, and I still find her arc interesting and twisted. Quentin and company, on the other hand are still at their studies, dealing with university life (in and out of the classroom). It’s such a smart, complex portrayal of magic, and good versus evil. On a completely different note, Supergirl is still such a darling show. The humor and heart is still so present in each episode, and I really like the characters. Melissa Benoist’s portrayal of Kara/Supergirl is just so genuine, so relatable, and I really love that! (Also, there was this seriously adorable and wonderful episode featuring the Flash, and I loved it. I guess that means I need to actually watch The Flash now!) 

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is back on my primetime line-up, and it’s still so much fun to see this team work together to protect the planet and defeat Hydra. The characters might not have changed overly much, which is a bit worrying when it comes to considering the show’s future. But the episodes continue to remain compelling (and emotional, or at least, emotional for one particular episode that’s aired this season). Another show that is also back on my primetime line-up is Once Upon a Time. In spite of the fact that I don't necessarily love all of these characters or the way the plot unfolds, I find myself drawn time and again to the concept. The writers do a pretty bang-up job of making these fairytale characters multi-dimensional, and I'm really liking this underworld rescue storyline that's currently in play as they try to find a way to save Captain Hook.

Deadpool: Ryan Reynolds nailed this portrayal of Deadpool, with just the right amount of irreverence, sarcasm and heart. I was thoroughly entertained by his commentary (including the way he breaks fourth wall) and antics from start to finish. What I really like about the film, apart from how refreshing the main character narration was, is how the story is still a pretty straightforward hero tale. There’s a villain and his lackeys, extra cool (and gory) fight scenes and a love interest worth fighting for. The character of Deadpool is really what makes this movie unique and glorious to behold; because I like well-done characters, it really worked for me.

Nausicaa: I’m always impressed by Miyazaki’s mind, because his creations are always something I have never encountered or even imagined before. This is his first film with Studio Ghibli, and it’s fairly apparent in terms of art and story construction. But it’s so lovely! It tells the story of one brave girl (who is just about too perfect, but I was fine rolling with that) determined to save her home and her people. I personally found some of the creatures in this one really creepy – but also fascinating. But what stands out is Miyazaki’s ability to weave a deeper theme into a fantastical tale, and this film was no exception to that. All in all, another excellent Ghibli film.

When Marnie Was There: After watching the first Studio Ghibli film, it made sense to see the latest from them prior to their hiatus. And this story was remarkably lovely, a magical tale about a girl desperately seeking love and family. It starts off rather slow, but carefully assembles this plot piece by piece until it has wondrously become something whole. I loved the combination of magical and realistic elements, as it was really well-balanced and whimsical all at once (which is how I like my stories most times). This story had such a strong emotional impact on me, as I was completely swept up in the narrative.

Justice League, War: While the film universe isn’t my particular favorite, I really have been enjoying the animated DC Universe. Unlike the films (which tend to be darker and more serious), there is a lot more humor balancing out the seriousness in these animated films and shows. This particular film reveals how the Justice League came together in order to defeat an alien nemesis – and I liked it. Yes, it’s definitely predictable and slightly corny. Yes, the script isn’t amazing. But it’s fun, and sometimes, that’s all one really needs anyway. (I prefer Green Lantern and the Flash in the animated universe, by the way.)

Justice League, The Flashpoint Paradox: What I love best about this film is how it really shakes up the entire DC Universe. Everything as these characters (and the viewer) knows it changes as a parallel timeline becomes the main timeline. Good and evil are no longer what they used to be, and people are different, and the stakes have become extremely high. I won’t get into further details on the plot, but suffice it to say that it’s crazy! I really liked that the Flash gets to take the lead here. And I also think how it unfolded was really well-executed. It was certainly a compelling tale, and I found myself riveted from start to finish!

The Shannara Chronicles had a really strong finish to its first season, with the last three episodes standing out in particular. It was really cool to see the plot get resolved, even though there were some open-ended bits that I wouldn’t mind hearing more about. Also, Daredevil is back on Netflix! The second season went up the weekend I was massively ill, so I ended up having to wait till the weekend after to finally binge all the episodes. And it was so brilliant. Personally, I thought it was a slow starter (particularly the first three episodes), but I understood that it was all part and parcel of building up these characters and their dynamic changes this season. I love that the main trio – Matt Murdock, Foggy Nelson, Karen Page – are all given the chance to grow and really develop even more with each situation they have to face. I also enjoyed meeting new additions to the group – Elektra and the Punisher – particularly because both these characters are really complicated. As always, the fight scenes, the mystery, and the intricate relationships all really came together. It was definitely another solid season for this show!

I never actually finished the first season of The Originals (I know, I know), but of what I had seen (which was about three fourths of it), it was a really good show. I’ve always had a special fondness for the Original family, stemming back to when they first appeared on The Vampire Diaries. Because there’s such a complicated relationship between the siblings and a whole lot of history to explore, it seems fitting that they would have their own show. The complex relationships, the magic of New Orleans (both as setting and as fact, since many of the characters are involved in magical things), the secrets and plots, the power plays and modern day court intrigue – it’s all extremely fun and compelling. I really love the show, and have been majorly enjoying what I’ve managed to rewatch so far – and I look forward to finding out what happens at the end of the season and in the second and third.

Whew! That's all of them, which is actually quite a fair amount for me to have watched in a month. Have you seen any of these films?  Are you watching these TV shows? Any new film  or TV show recommendations for me?


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