TV – Game of Thrones: Season 4: A+

game of thrones season 4A+
This season’s “All men must die” tagline certainly proved apt, and the show continued to reenforce how choosing favorite characters is not a good idea. The Red Wedding from last season saw the deaths of many major players, but not since Season 1 have we seen so many fall, and in such creative, satisfying ways. The full-episode battle at The Wall was easily the best battle scene I’ve watched on television. There were of course plenty of great performances, especially The Hound, Tywin, and predictably, Tyrion. Lots of interesting developments left most characters at the ends of arcs, so that the season felt wrapped up, but with plenty of intriguing uncertainty about where things will go from here.

TV – Game of Thrones: Season 3: A+

game of thrones season 3A+
It’s nearly impossible to review this season without focusing on the divisive penultimate episode. While it can be argued that it crossed too far past “bold” or “daring” into something more akin to “sensationalist”, no one should claim it was boring. But the lead up to that beautiful episode had loads of fantastic moments too. Jamie underwent some interesting character “growth” and Peter Dinklage further showed why he earned his accolades. Arya continued to entertain, mostly due to her hanging out with the coolest minor characters on the show. Daenerys had a great moment of badassery mid-season but then her story got a bit redundant.

Movie – Safe House: B+

I enjoyed that this spy thriller utilized an inexperienced spy as its protagonist, but wish there’d been a little more to it. No surprises as Reynolds and The Denzel develop their 3:10 to Yuma-esque relationship. Good, if forgettable, action scenes round out the traditional plotting and dialog to make for an enjoyable watch you’ll forget about soon afterwards.

TV – Game of Thrones: Season 2: A

There was quite a different tone than season 1; with significantly more magical goings-on. Though I enjoyed the first season more, I think that may have been from watching it all in one sitting, rather than weekly as I did this time around. The stakes seemed higher this season, but the consequences weren’t as dramatic. There were some incredible moments though, especially in the penultimate episode (written by Martin himself.) I loved some of the new characters, anxiously wondering about their inevitable demises. The wait for season 3 will be painful.

Movie – The Whistleblower: B

While not particularly remarkable, I can’t find anything substantial to fault. I had a few plot and pacing hang-ups, but that usually happens when something gets “based on a true story” as they steer clear of the melodrama that I seem to enjoy so much in favor of “accuracy.” The ending wasn’t quite satisfying, but it wasn’t dissatisfying either. Rachel Weisz wasn’t at her best, but her best isn’t amazing anyway.

Movie – The Guard: A-

A strange mix of elements of several different genres, some buddy cop, some noir, all wrapped inside a decent dark humor candy shell. The thick Irish accents were difficult at times, but the elements important to its quirky irreverence shone through nicely. Possibly a few superfluous characters, but only in hindsight.

Movie – War Horse: C+

It was like having to watch the boring openings of a half-dozen cliched war movies. Each story was coated in a layer of cheesiness and the attempt to unite them didn’t quite work. The protagonists changed so often you couldn’t care about them, and with no consistent antagonist there was no real sense of danger. What little it did show of WWI was mostly censored and non-committal. Trying to paint all sides of the war just distracted from the horrors it could’ve shown.

TV – Game of Thrones: Season 1: A+

Like most shows with such a numerous cast, it took a bit to establish each of the characters, but they did so quickly enough that I wasn’t ever lost. Lots of different plot lines with different emotional underscores melded seamlessly as I discovered the goals and faults of all the various central characters. I raged at the characters I was supposed to hate, felt for those for whom sympathy was expected, and celebrated those who I couldn’t help but root for. I eagerly await season two.

Movie – The Tournament: C+

The premise is similar to several other films, most notably Battle Royale. This film seemed to know about the camp and silliness such a plot entails, but never fully embraced it. Though predictable and jam-packed with cliche characters and trite plot devises, people got sploded and endless streams of bullets riddled bodies in pleasantly non-CG ways.