Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D: The Well

Agents of SHIELD logoIn this week’s very special episode of S.H.I.E.L.D., we learn about the lasting effects of trauma.  We find out that not everyone on Asgard knows everyone else, and we discover yet again that it’s very important to watch this show all the way to the end.

First of all, I’m writing this late at night and off the cuff – please excuse any typos.  Late night blogging is never my friend.  Also, this is short.

Second of all, this movie had three great moments, and they are all very spoilery, so I’m not going to talk that much about this actual episode.

Here’s the great moments:

1.  Inspired guest casting.  This show really brings it in terms of hiring great guest actors.  Every minute with the professor, played by Peter MacNicol, was delightful.  I shall say no more.

PETER MACNICOL

2.  The theme of trauma.  Grant’s memories are freaking awful.  Child in peril trigger warning alert.  Meanwhile, Agent May takes the episode to a whole new episode with her own reaction to traumatic memory.  In every episode , there’s at least one line that makes me unwilling to give up on the show.  Her line, “Because I see it every day” is the line that keeps me going this week.  Fantastic.

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3.  The last one minute and thirty seconds.

Right now the only current TV shows I’m watching are S.H.I.E.L.D. and Arrow, and I vastly prefer Arrow.  Arrow is a ridiculous show, yet it’s deeply satisfying, because it knows exactly what it is.  Arrow is so ridiculous that at in one episode Ollie swings from a rope-like object  (Tarzan style) to whisk a girl out of danger not once but twice.  Twice in one episode.  Once, without a shirt.  With every second that I watch Arrow, I feel dumber and happier.

I feel dumber and happier just looking at this.

I feel dumber and happier just looking at this.

But Arrow gets us deeply invested in its soapy characters in a way that SHIELD (I’m bored with including the periods)  has yet to manage, and it moves the plot along with every episode – not in tiny increments, but in large steps.  Every episode ends with a question answered (Who is Canary?) and a question asked (will Ollie reveal her identity now that he knows it?).  The cinematography allows it to do a lot with a little, and the fight scenes are excellent.  Arrow is a soapy, silly, fun show and it knows it and it delivers fun, soapy, superhero derring-do and surprisingly realistic character development every single week.  If it’s not your cup of tea, you’ll know right away and never waste a moment of your time on it.  It delivers what it promises to deliver.

SHIELD does not seem to know what it’s doing.  We’re now in episode eight and the show still hasn’t kicked into gear.  I enjoy watching it, but I don’t think about the show in between episodes.  It’s still just “OK” and I’m getting a little pissy about it.  Every episode has some interesting stuff going on but not enough to make any particularly wonderful episodes.   The next episode is supposed to be May-centric, so I live in hope.

Agent May, you're my only hope.

Agent May, I’m counting on you!

Emergency Guide to Thanksgiving Movies: About Time and Thor 2

THURS_003B_G_ENG-GB_70x100.inddIf you are like me, you have a few days left until you are surrounded by family.  Family everywhere!  Which is…GREAT!  Or, if you are not with family, you are either weeping into a plate of mashed potatoes or dancing a happy dance – it’s really all a matter of perspective.  Regardless, here is your quick guide to two geek-friendly movies that you can drag your bus load of relatives to, or see by yourself (no sharing popcorn, yay).

About Time

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What it says it is:  A romantic comedy about time travel.

What the script says it is:  A movie about father/son relationships, and about growing up.

Action level:  Zip.  Nada.  No explosions at all.

Romance level:  High, but not as high as the ads would have you think.  Most of the romance stuff happens in the first half of the movie.

See it with:  Your parents and your grandparents.

If they can handle:  Swearing, a little bit of partial nudity (cute and comedic, not super sexy), non-explicit sex.

Avoid it if:  You have daddy issues and/or have recently lost a parent.  I bawled the whole time.  Tim’s father is the one we all wish we had or that we all hope we’ll grow up to be (those of us who identify as fathers, that is).  Quite good for a cathartic cry but unless you want your cathartic cry to be public, see it by yourself if daddy issues are your thing.

Capsule review:  This movie is funny, touching, and sweet.  I giggled like a maniac and cried like a baby.  But it is also deeply flawed.  It doesn’t work as a time travel movie, because the rules are broken at the filmmaker’s whim.  The time travel is strictly a poetical device.  It doesn’t work as a romantic comedy, because the focus is only one character, Tim, and all other characters are strictly subordinate.  Despite its flaws, it’s quite a lovely movie about learning to appreciate an “extraordinary, ordinary life”.

You can find a a full-length review at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books

Thor:  The Dark World

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What it says it is:  A movie in which Thor has to save the universe from dark elves.

What the script says it is: A character-based comedy/drama about how Thor has to redefine his role and his relationships after the events in The Avengers.

What we (the audience) thinks it is:  Loki 3.  Let’s be honest, folks.

Action level:  Huge.

Romance level:  Medium.

See it with:  Your siblings and your cousins.  Your friends.  Yourself, if you are stranded on Thankgiving and want to escape into fun and excitement for a while.  Your grandparents  will think it’s weird.

If they can handle:  Violence, some death, minimal gore.  It’s just a smidgen more graphic than The Avengers.  There’s minimal swearing, a shirtless scene (of Chris Hemsworth), no sex.  Might be too scary for little kids.

Avoid it if:  You would have to see it with people who think superhero movies are lame.  Who needs that attitude when you want to kick back and watch Loki run amok in peace?  This is another movie about family issues, and it involves estrangement and loss although it never gets so angst that it stops being fun.

Capsule review:  This is a fun movie with both humor and pathos and some romance.  The dynamic between Thor and Loki adds emotional stakes to the visual splendor and the clever climatic fight scene.  The over-arching plot, about evil elves, is ridiculous and serves purely as a device to keep the characters we care about running around and interacting.  Loki steals the show, as usual, but praise is due to Chris Hemsworth as well who grounds the whole enterprise and has some good snark of his own.

And here’s the full-length review!