Category Archives: Reviews

TV Review: House of Cards (Season 1)

“The road to power is paved with hypocrisy, and casualties.”

I love me a good drama. I love that nail biting feeling you get after a cliffhanger. But politics? Not so much.

I think it’s safe to say that AMC’s Breaking Bad changed the realm of serial entertainment for the better, and I’ve noticed a large amount of shows focusing on stories similar to it, with the spotlight being given to people with dreams of climbing up the ladder of power and becoming the “kingpin” of sorts. The difference between Breaking Bad and House of Cards, however, (besides the fact that one takes place in a meth lab and the other takes place in the White House) is that while Walter White took his time becoming the revered Heisenburg, right from the beginning of House of Cards, we know exactly who Frank Underwood is; scheming, hungry for power, ruthless, ambitious in all the wrong ways, a villain, essentially. And just like Walter, you just can’t help but love Frank, with his 4th-wall-breaking quips to the audience and all.

Frank Underwood isn’t satisfied with his role as a congressman, and he’s set on getting to the top, whatever that may lead to. His wife, Claire, is ambitious too; perhaps not as mercilessly, but she believes in power. When House of Cards focuses on its characters, I feel it shines brightest. When the political complexities and democracy take the front stage is when I feel my attention wavering, and this seemed to happen more frequently in the first few episodes than anywhere else. But later when things inevitably heat up, I found myself thoroughly enjoying myself.

There’s one thing I noticed that I’d like to mention:

Let me bring up Breaking Bad again. Walter White was oddly successful most of the time, and it was always deeply satisfying watching him succeed. Of course, there would be instances where everything blowed over and he had to take drastic measures, but overall, he was very good at achieving what he wanted. The funny thing about Frank Underwood is that even though he seems all-powerful, his plans almost never go smoothly. He’ll ask the President for his trust, his plain will fail completely, and he’ll go back and ask for his trust again. Frank is not invincible. He’s extremely persuasive, but he can’t always rely on this to get out of trouble. He really is balancing a house of cards. When I think of Breaking Bad, I think of a Jenga tower that keeps getting taller and taller until the very end where it all just topples over. A house of cards much better fits Underwood’s situation, as everything definitely seems likely to collapse, and the wind is always blowing. This makes for good drama.

The performances are great all across the board, I absolutely love the soundtrack, the picture is fantastic, and I found myself watching episodes fly by because I enjoyed watching so much. That really is a testament to how good this show is. However, I found myself losing interest when the politics would take over and it took me a while to even realize what was going on a lot, mostly because I instinctively turned my brain off when people started talking about passing bills and acts and “Wait, what is this about?” was a question I asked an embarrassing amount throughout the thirteen episodes. All that aside though, I’m excited to dig my teeth into season 2 and the soon-to-be-released season 3.

So, what do you think of House of Cards? Perhaps you have yet to see it, and if so, are you interested?

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Movie Review: Her (2013)

Oddly enough, for the past couple of years, it’s been unexplainably difficult for me to convince myself to sit down and watch a feature-length film, but this past weekend I actually went on a total movie binge, watching all the films that everyone seemed to be raging about for the past while or so, along with a few others I had been previously interested in watching. One of those films was Her, and out of all the movies I watched this weekend (a total of 6), this one seemed to resonate most with me, ultimately making me feel the need to write my thoughts down.

Quick little spoiler free review, as I will go into full detail in the real review: Do you like a good love story, honest and introspective looks at humanity, social commentary on the relations between people and technology, Scarlett Johansson’s uber sexy voice, awkward phone sex, the feeling of bittersweetness, and waist-high pants? If so, you’ll probably enjoy this movie.

SPOILERS PAST THIS POINT. TAKE CAUTION.

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I live in an age where going anywhere without your smart device is terrifying, where we rely on these devices for many of our activities. I mean, I think it’s pretty awesome to have this computer in my pocket at all times, in fact, I’m writing this on my iPod Touch right now. But every now and then I put down the iPod and realize just how little human-to-human interaction I actually have. Sometimes I just have this burning and painful desire to go outside and meet someone, make new friends, fall in love, to live. Most of my social activity happens behind my iPod screen, and I hate it. I take online school, so I don’t leave my house for education. I’m a rather introverted person, so most of my hobbies involve me sitting alone in my room. I saw a bit of myself in Theodore.

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He’s lonely, hungry for sex, scared of commitment after coming off a divorce, and he makes a living writing loving letters for other people to send to their own loved ones. He’s pretty much a walking corpse, that is until a new technology is released: the OS1, a sentient AI capable of evolving as humans do. He installs it, chooses a female voice, and thus Samantha is born. She organizes his e-mails, proofreads his letters, and makes him feel alive again. They quickly bond, and Theodore finds himself putting in his earpiece often just to talk to her. Samantha longs to have a body, and to be able to physically be around Theo, and he wishes for it too, so he can embrace her. And next thing you know they’re having a kind of phone sex. They start a relationship together, and it all seems to work perfectly…until he starts overthinking the fact that his partner is a computer.

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Anyway, I figure that if you’re reading this you’ve seen the movie, so you know what happens. This movie is beautiful, tragically so. In fact, it even kinda depressed me for a while. This movie just really instills that desire to connect.

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Was it wrong for Theodore to fall in love with an OS? Honestly, I have no clue. But there’s no denying that the love between Samantha and Theo was beautiful. But then you remember that she claims to love over 600 others. Apparently that increases her love, but honestly, I just didn’t look at her the same after that confession. I really hope an OS like this is never invented, because if it is, my chances of creating new human relationships would probably be zero to none.

But the bottom line is this: I love this movie. It’s lovely, yet strangely bleak and depressing at the same time. I really love this world and these characters, and it actually feels like this not-so-distant future could very well happen in a matter of years. This movie really made me think about my life, and even though it kinda bummed me out, I really love it.

Oh, and the music by Arcade Fire, as well as the original song by Karen O, are great.

So, what did you think of this film? Did you find yourself feeling? Or perhaps reeling in disgust? Let me know!

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Adventure Time Review: Season 6 Episode 17 (Ghost Fly)

Well, hasn’t it been a while, both since you’ve seen a new episode of Adventure Time (about two and a half months) and since you’ve seen me (about 2 months). I guess you could say I had my own little hiatus along with F & J. But I’m back now, and I’m ready to write the heck out of these reviews!

The Plot

In this year’s Halloween special, Jake is feeling irritable, and in an attempt to relax, he decides to whip up some tasty stew. But to his misfortune, it attracts a nasty, annoying, disease (tuberculosis, polio, etc) carrying fly; of which he kills on sight. But this fly’s got unfinished business in the mortal realm, meaning Finn, Jake, and B-MO’s humble abode may no longer be safe. Can they protect their home and themselves from this vengeful, buzzing spirit?!

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Spoilers from here onwards…

Adventure Time has indulged in the horror genre many times before, with episodes such as The Creeps, Hug Wolf, No One Can Hear You, and many others. Ghost Fly is a welcome addition to the creepy side of Adventure Time, and ’tis the season, but it’s also a pretty good episode to come back on after such a long break. It has practically no ties to the over-arching story, and it’s rather accessible for newcomers. This is also a much-needed return for episodes where it’s just Finn, Jake, and B-MO getting into shenanigans. It almost harkens back to earlier episodes.

There wasn’t anything super outstanding about the episode, besides B-MO killing Jake that is…

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…but even if the episode was nothing too outstanding, it’s Adventure Time at it’s core, and for that alone, I love it.

So, what did you think of this episode? Did it give you Restless Leg syndrome? Or perhaps you’re just happy to have Adventure Time back? Let me know!

Quick Note: My family uses Dish Network, so that means that I temporarily don’t have Cartoon Network and other channels due to an expired contract and disagreements between Turner Networks and Dish. Hopefully they figure something out soon. Are any of you dealing with this problem too?

Did you enjoy this little ramble? If so, consider following The Critic’s Canvas for all your critical needs!

Adventure Time Review: Season 6 Episode 16 (Joshua and Margaret Investigations)

Yet another episode where the titular characters only make small appearances, however, this time it’s done in a way that could possibly strengthen a particular character. That’s right, we get to see more of Jake’s parents!

The Plot

It’s Jake’s birthday, and Finn and BMO are dying to know what his birth story is. So, we follow Joshua and Margaret (who is pregnant with Jake at the time) as they investigate miscellaneous crimes for money, and eventually give birth to everyone’s favorite magic dog! However, let’s just say that things don’t exactly play out the way you might expect.

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Spoilers from here onwards…

Okay, so can I rant for a second?

I have found this season very disappointing so far. Why? Well, to put it simply, there just hasn’t been enough Finn and Jake. Adventure Time just so happens to have an extensive cast of characters, and they’ve really been focusing on these other characters this season. Now, usually this would be a good thing, but I just feel like they’ve been pushing the real “main” characters to the side a bit too much. I just miss seeing F & J go on adventures, or even just doing nothing together. Now don’t get me wrong, there have been some pretty good Finn and Jake episodes this season; for example, I really liked Furniture and Meat, and Ocarina was pretty good too, but that just isn’t enough. The season started off perfectly, and I had such high expectations for this season, and they just haven’t been met yet. I’m cool with focus shifting to the side characters every now and then, but there needs to be balance.

Okay, rant over. So the episode:

I liked it! Although we don’t see much of our main characters, we do get a bit of interesting story on what Jake is and where he came from. Joshua and Margaret are cool characters that we haven’t seen much of at all, and it was fun seeing them sniff out mysteries and stuff. However, the part that sticks out to me the most is the ending. Like, what the heck.

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Basically, this creepy monster that can morph and transform into different things and shapes bites Joshua on the head. This leads to a very Alien-esque scene of Joshua giving birth to Jake, and then immediately following that, Margaret gives birth to Jermaine, Jake’s brother. Pretty crazy. The worst part is, they decided to not tell Jake, so he doesn’t even know! I’m hoping this all leads to more backstory on Jake, but who knows, it could just be a throwaway gag, although Adventure Time rarely ever does that.

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So what did you think of the episode? Did you hate it? Love it? Let me know!

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Legend Of Korra Review: Book 3 Episode 10 (Long Live The Queen)

Airbending just got a whole lot more interesting.

The Plot

Korra and Asami are imprisoned on an Earth Kingdom airship and are being taken into the Earth Queen’s custody; Mako and Bolin are imprisoned by the Red Lotus and are being taken into the Earth Queen’s custody. To put it simply, things aren’t looking up for Team Avatar.

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Spoilers from here onwards…

Well, I think we all know why Nick pulled Korra off the air now. Yup. That happened. We saw a villain die a rather violent death on screen. Sure, the Earth Queen is a real ding dong, but you gotta admit, that death was just screwed up.

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Not to mention the fact that every young, innocent child who saw that is probably gonna have nightmares for the remainder of their lifespan.

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So yeah, Zaheer dethroned the Earth Queen, spreading anarchy throughout Ba Sing Se, with riots, looters, you know, the whole kazoo. Obviously, the Earth Queen’s rather disturbing death is the talk of the episode, and I really don’t know what else to say about it. The rest of the episode is really just the characters trying to escape their imprisonment only to find Ba Sing Se in crisis.

Nonetheless, the episode was very enjoyable, but not to the point where I feel the need to write pages and pages of analysis and opinions.

What did you think of the episode? Did it leave you breathless? Or did it actually, like, rip the air out of your lungs and leave you twitching on the floor? Let me know!

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Adventure Time Review: Season 6 Episode 15 (Nemesis)

Protective parents be trippin’ yo.

The Plot

A passionate man, who goes by the name “Peacemaster”, is rife with angst towards the Candy Kingdom. This fury is driven by the belief that there is dark magic and secrets afoot. He knows that PB spies on her citizens, and he knows that someone in her castle is an evil-doer. Will he succeed in unveiling the true face of the kingdom of candy? Or will Peppermint Butler take it upon himself to silence the issue?

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Spoilers from here onwards…

Okay, so I’m quite torn about who to side with here:

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• There’s Bubblegum and her candy citizens who follow her to no end. PB will do anything for the greater good, whether that be leaving someone to die so that others will survive, or kidnapping someone and running dangerous experiments on said someone to receive information that could prevent possible catastrophes in the future. People often say that Bubblegum is kind of “morally grey”; she does seemingly evil things for good, kind of. But no matter what, you rarely ever hear anyone call her out on it. Finn and Jake have shown concern before, but I assure you that Finn (I don’t know about Jake) would never turn his back on PB unless things got really donked up. And yes, she has a wacked out, kinda evil sociopath as a butler. Cute as he may be, he could be extremely dangerous were he to attack the Candy Kingdom.

And then…

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• There’s Peacemaster, a guy who wants, well, peace; a world rid of evil, dark arts, and anything that could possibly influence his three kids in a bad way. Yup, he’s a family guy. Too bad these kids could care less about their father’s concern, and would honestly love to take part in some good ol’ dark arts. It’s kinda sad, really. I mean, sure, you could say that Peacemaster is kind of being a buttwad by shielding his kids so much, but to me it just means he cares. In fact, Pep But turning his kids into monsters really pissed me off.

So who do I side with?

Well, in this case, I’m gonna go with Peacemaster. It is true that PB oversteps boundaries on a far too regular basis, and honestly, I just can’t help but feel sorry for the guy.

So what did I think of the episode? I think it’s great! I was kinda becoming displeased with the lack of solid Adventure Time episodes as of late, and it felt good to see one that I actually wanted to talk about.

So what did you think of the episode? Did you shake a righteous fist of anger? Or perhaps sat back and enjoyed the episode with a bit of camomile tea? Let me know!

Did you enjoy this little ramble? If so, consider following The Critic’s Canvas for all your critical needs.

Legend of Korra Review: Book 3 Episode 9 (The Stakeout)

God, this season has been so great. Like, why did it take 3 seasons for them to get it right?

The Plot

Korra and the gang travel Misty Palms in search of the treacherous Aiwie, but no matter where they go, Zaheer will always be waiting.

Spoilers From Here Onwards

The Krew’s search for Aiwie takes them to the Misty Palms Oasis, and what’s a stakeout without sneaky disguises and intense chase scenes? Yes, The Stakeout, has all of these things, but most surprising is the information gained in just the third act alone. I’m talking a massive info dump.

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Turns out our prisoner friends are really an organization called The Red Lotus. They desire absolute anarchy; a world free of kings, queens, and government as a whole. The belief that the natural order is disorder drives these people, and they want Korra to aid them in achieving their goals.

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However, the best thing about their intentions is this:

They kinda make sense.

Korra and her friends have dealt with some awful monarchs throughout the show. Some desire power so much that they’d be willing to do anything to seize it.

But this philosophy is not without flaws. One must consider that without law, people would be free to commit much worse crimes than before and not be punished. Zaheer strongly believes that disorder will bring the world balance, but such beliefs put the strong ones at the top, and weak ones at the bottom. Would it really be any better than the way things already are? Of course, his intentions are evil, but the fact that it leaves you thinking about it is a good thing.

Oh yeah, and that Pai-shodown was flamio, hotman.

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Bolin and Mako are taken by The Red Lotus, while Korra and Asami are taken by the Earth Queen. What will become of our heroes?!

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So what did you think of the episode? Did you love it? Hate it? Let me know!

Did you enjoy this little ramble? If so, consider following The Critic’s Canvas for all your critical needs.