Archive for the 'Reviews' Category

Sep 05 2014

Looking Back on Captain America: The First Avenger

Published by under Movies,Reviews


 by Brian Hadsell

It’s easy to forget, with Guardians of the Galaxy currently burning up the box office for going on its fifth week, that the other Marvel success story of the year, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, is being released on BluRay and DVD on the 9th.  A sequel to both the first Captain America film and The Avengers, it boldly struck forth into new, uncharted territory for the MCU with the same devil-may-care attitude that fueled the game-changing reveals in Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World.  Looking back at Phase 1, however, it quickly becomes apparent that Marvel’s biggest pre-Avengers game-changer – bigger than Nick Fury’s recruitment for The Avengers Initiative, bigger than alien gods from other dimensions starting a street brawl in New Mexico and even bigger than the Hulk’s biceps – was Captain America: The First Avenger: a quaint, old-timey war movie with Depression-era spunk and something to prove.

Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), a thin, sickly asthmatic, is continually rejected from enlisting in the army due to his laundry list of physical infirmities.  Adamant that “there are men laying down their lives [and he has] no right to do any less than them,” he is eventually selected for Dr. Abraham Erksine’s (Stanley Tucci) super soldier program and transformed into Captain America: a patriotic champion against the Axis Powers.  Although initially sidelined as a War Bonds salesman, he proves to be the Allies’ greatest weapon against Hydra – the Nazi deep-science division – and its megalomaniacal leader, The Red Skull (Hugo Weaving).

The reason why Captain America works so well is because it was written as a period war drama first and a superhero action film as a distant second.  Rather than Thor’s mysticism or Iron Man’s next-gen engineering, Captain America is rooted in the historical  realism of World War II.  Yes, the Tesseract (the magical blue cube from The Avengers) allows The Red Skull (whose superhuman abilities are derived from Erksine’s super soldier serum) to create futuristic death rays in order to overwhelm both the Axis and Allied forces, but that’s just Marvel brand ornamentation.  It supplements, rather than defines, a film that more closely resembles Saving Private Ryan than it does Man of Steel. Continue Reading »

4 responses so far

Sep 04 2014

Netflix It – From Dusk till Dawn: The Series

Published by under Reviews,Television


It’s a rare thing for a creator to revisit and expand upon their existing work. We’re accustomed to the slew of modern remakes and reboots of cult films by now, but to have a director decide he wants to expand his own classic film into a full television series? That’s a special kind of idea.

I was pretty excited when I heard Robert Rodriguez had started his own cable channel, El Rey, in order to bring even more of his Mexican-American flavored brand of tongue-in-cheek action entertainment to the public. Last week, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For inspired me to take a look at Frank Miller, and this week it’s co-director Rodriguez’s turn. My current cable package sadly doesn’t carry El Rey, but -as it so often does- Netflix has my back on this one and I got to enjoy the televisation of one of the most unique and badass vampire films of all time this week. The Titty Twister bar is back open for business and the Gecko brothers ride again. Let’s see how it went. Continue Reading »

3 responses so far

Aug 26 2014

You Really Should Give A Listen To…Volume 3


It’s time to deepen your ear holes, Unrealtors! I’m going to be talking about three podcasts you may not have heard yet but you really should give a listen to. Fire up your iPods—since, presumably, you’re a time traveler visiting from 2004—and get your ears in gears. Continue Reading »

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Aug 07 2014

Breaking Down Guardians of the Galaxy

Published by under Movies,Reviews


Guardians of the Galaxy is probably the best movie of this year … so far.

(if you don’t consider the last 45 minutes of Godzilla)

I’m not saying that it will definitely be the best movie of the year when considering the Oscars or anything like that. I’m just saying that it is the only movie that has made going to the theater worth every penny. Granted I’ve not seen Planet of the Apes yet, and people keep telling me that it was amazing, so there’s that. (I’ll probably try and get a viewing of that in this weekend with my Mom – shout out to the best mom ever – HI MOM!) I’d say that this review might be spoiler free, but really, if you’ve seen most of the trailers, and understand how comic books work, then not much that I will write about will ruin anything. So I guess that’s kind of your warning…?

Continue Reading »

2 responses so far

Aug 06 2014

The Five Most Entertaining and Informative Critical Reviewers Online

Published by under Lists,Reviews


We live in a media-obsessed culture. It’s not enough to merely watch, play, or read something anymore; now you have to live-tweet about it while you upload fanart to tumblr and videos to youtube.

As someone of extreme journalistic integrity, I am going to avoid the pitfall of a media review this week. Instead, I am going to write a review of some reviewers. Total legitimacy.

The truth is: sometimes content that leans heavily on existing media is able to paradoxically stand out on its own. So, in recognition of some of the very best pieces of critical entertainment, here are some of the more talented reviewers that maintain a privileged spot on my bookmark menu… Continue Reading »

2 responses so far

Jul 29 2014

Drop Everything and Go Read The Martian

Published by under Books,Reviews


“Actually, I was the very lowest ranked member of the crew. I would only be ‘in command’ if I were the only remaining person. What do you know? I’m in command.”

I assume you guys are all caught up on Paul’s latest books, and looking for some solid reading material to help finish out the last month or so of summer. Well, look no further than Andy Weir’s debut novel, The Martian. It’s not often that I find myself discovering great books the same year they come out, but… well, I did this time. So I’m passing the knowledge onto you.

The Martian is a rare find. It’s basically a near-future science fiction thriller. More plausible than most; it’s unsurprising to discover its author is a professional software engineer and an amateur science expert. Despite the hard science pedigree, it’s also INSANELY compelling reading material. For someone who spent his teen years reading classic Michael Crichton, this was a total home run.

Meet me after the jump for some more convincing. And don’t worry; this review is spoiler free!

Continue Reading »

2 responses so far

Jul 15 2014

Yeah, True Detective is a Masterpiece

Published by under Reviews,Television


Yes, I’m late to the party. I don’t have cable, okay? I’ve spent the last several months dodging spoilers, which is like the exact opposite of an easy task. Worth it in the end, though. A few weeks ago, my hard work paid off and I started digging into one of the most talked-about television shows of recent years. My verdict? Holy moly, what a freakin’ show. Like, we’re talking “instant classic” material.

So imagine my disappointment when I started digging through backlogs of what people were writing a few months ago and discovered way too much off-topic debate over stuff that the show really just isn’t about. Complaints of a disappointing finale, of unresolved mystery, of lame character turns.

Well, better late than never. Let’s dive into spoiler-infested waters and suss out what it was that launched True Detective high into the ranks of my favorite shows of all time.

Continue Reading »

2 responses so far

Jul 10 2014

Knights of Sidonia is Another Win for Netflix

Published by under Reviews,Television


Netflix original programming is quickly becoming a premiere go-to source for quality television. HBO may have a hefty head start as the reigning champion, but it may not be very long before the diversity of programming the DVD rental/streaming service starts to eclipse even their titanic credentials.

In a couple years, we’ve already received the charged political drama of House of Cards, the irresistible Orange is the New Black, the horror-themed Hemlock Grove, the return of fan-favorite comedy Arrested Development and Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and a lot more including an ambitious upcoming collaboration with Marvel Comics to bring several of their characters to the small screen.

Surely this bounty of awesome entertainment is missing something, though. Perhaps high-concept science fiction or (dare I suggest) anime? Don’t worry, friends. Netflix has geeks covered on both counts. Knights of Sidonia became available for our viewing pleasure last weekend as their latest serving of original programming and it did not disappoint.

Science fiction means a lot of things to a lot of people. To some, anything that takes place in space or has aliens or robots in it is sci-fi. To some, the genre is defined by high-concept social commentary, and to others it’s all about the science and future possibilities of technological advances. My favorites are the ones that can combine all of these different aspects into a single cohesive story with great characters and amazing visuals.  This is one of those.

Continue Reading »

10 responses so far

Jun 26 2014

Netflix It: Madoka Magica

Published by under Reviews,Television


Every so often you get a story that not only transcends beyond the limitations of its chosen genre, but deconstructs it; devastating the tropes that define it in a way that resounds indefinitely. Watchmen did it for superhero comics, Scream did it to a lesser extent for slasher films (before becoming a joke itself with unnecessary sequels), Neon Genesis Evangelion did it for mecha, the Grand Theft Auto series routinely does it for third-person shooter video games, and for magical girl anime there’s Puella Magi Madoka Magica.

Part of what made this show so brilliant was the way it was presented and marketed in a way to catch the audience completely off-guard. For those not into anime, let me explain. Magical girls are invariably upbeat, saccharine girl-power heroines with powers fueled by love and kittens who spread joy to the world by beating cartoonish baddies with extra-sparkly magical powers while navigating the social perils of high school like supercharged Hannah Montanas. Surely you’ve at least heard of Sailor Moon. So when you go for a magical girl anime, you aren’t expecting something that’s going to challenge you intellectually. You’re looking for something like this: Continue Reading »

10 responses so far

Jun 24 2014

Unreal Television Review: Sherlock Season Three


It’s quite the mystery how I ever got into Sherlock.

When I first heard about the series I was immediately turned off. I sighed and couldn’t believe that even the BBC, a network known for its uniqueness and quality would stoop to the rehash retread trend that every other entertainment avenue seemed to be following. Sherlock Holmes? Again? Would I be watching? Elementary, Watson, freaking of course not.

But one lonely Netflix night nothing sounded good and disposable mystery was a meal I wouldn’t mind consuming. And now here I am, Sherlock megafan, still refusing to throw out a ratty old coat of mine because it kind of looks like Benny’s—er, Mr. Cumberbatch’s. Moffat and Co. found a way to reinvent the wheel, adapting century-old stories into sleek, chic, modern television masterpieces.

A show with better replay value than most modern video games, I devoured the first two seasons of Sherlock many times over, picking up something new every time. I couldn’t wait for the promised third season, and when that glorious day came and PBS posted “The Empty Hearse” I couldn’t believe it when the video was loading on my computer. Continue Reading »

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Jun 17 2014

How To Train Your Dragon 2: A Surprising, Messy Disappointment

Published by under Movies,Reviews


Not that this is what makes me special, but I was a big fan of the first How to Train Your Dragon movie. Personally, I’d put it neck-and-neck with Shrek in the limited lineup of great Dreamworks movies. It even stands tall amongst the larger competition — at one point you might have caught me making semi-outrageous claims like “This should have beaten out Toy Story 3 for the Best Animated Oscar.”

Given all that, hopefully I don’t have to prove that was rooting for How to Train Your Dragon 2 to be good. It started out strong, with some great flying footage and a promising sense of newness, but then the seams started to show. As we rolled through the first act, it seemed to be having a hard time getting off the ground. Still there were several places places where I thought, “Oh, okay, now it’s gonna start going somewhere.”

Then, at a certain point, I realized that I was just kinda wrong about that.

Continue Reading »

7 responses so far

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