I must not have been the only one whining about the second season, since they corrected most of my complaints. Elba continued to please, but his co-stars finally stood out on their own too. And Alice was back, and though she shone brightly in season 1, her return lit things up quite nicely. I enjoyed the new serial killer cases, but some of the plotlines could’ve used a few more episodes to properly explore.
Though Mandela’s life certainly deserves a telling, this version plays it too safe, hindering the drama. And the scope is entirely too large. Like most full-life-biopics, nothing is allowed focus, and it feels like reading a Wikipedia page. Idris Elba and Naomie Harris both do a great job, capturing the accents especially well, but they were apparently the only ones who were told they were portraying South Africans, as no else attempted to sound like one.
Very little of Thor 2 took place on Earth, and that pleased me very much. Despite my initial reluctance, I find myself totally on board with Movie Thor’s fantasy/sci-fi mashup and The Dark World offered that in heaping helpings. It has the humor the first Thor searched for but never quite found. The chaotic finale worked beautifully, and I found myself wanting to watch it again. Marvel has eschewed the grimdark superhero universe in favor of having fun, and it’s a winning strategy. People seem to like fun.
Bonus nerd rant: Why was Hogun essentially cut from the sequel? Asgard looked much better than before, looking less shiny and more Norse. Kurse looked like a Warcraft character which, astoundingly, is an improvement over the comics. Maleketh was equally improved. I liked the Dark Elves’ masks. Idris Heimdall finally got a moment of genuine badassery. Rant over.
It was like watching Independence Day with the characters from Top Gun, but with the most amazingly awesome giant monsters cinema has ever seen. Unlike other loud summer films, like say Transformers, the action was nice and fluid, slow enough to feel the punches and, more importantly, follow the action. It had all the best things from the giant monster and/or mech genres, but without most the faults, and with more fun than any of them.
Though the cases were more interesting this time around, the character interactions were less so. Alice was largely absent, much to the show’s detriment. Luther continued his struggle with morality, but the struggle seemed more bothersome than conflicting this season.
While the shell is a fairly standard detective narrative, the strength of the show’s characters elevates it dramatically. Which is common for BBC dramas it seems. Idris Elba lives up to hype I didn’t realize I’d assigned to him and the female lead portrays a captivating madness. Plenty of drama drips from the “cop walking the line between right and wrong” thematic structure. Oftentimes I enjoyed that drama. Sometimes I didn’t.
For all Ridley Scott’s “this is not a prequel” talk, it certainly was filled with direct connections to his Alien. That said, he delivered on every promise. It was moody and ominous, full of great performances, especially Fassbender’s, and contained just the right amount of suspense and action. Some of the new alien designs were interesting, while others were merely satisfactory. Good sci-fi is rare, and this is it.