Movie – Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: A+

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A+
Somehow the thing I disliked most about Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the trite, simple plot and characters, felt correct this time around. Perhaps it kept what could’ve been convoluted and silly from becoming so. It also helped that it was full of small, smart details constantly reinforcing the symbolism and easing the audience’s understanding. And the efforts of Serkis and his fellow mo-cap actors delivered fantastic results. Finally, some great camera work solidified its place as one of the many reasons the summer of 2014 has been such a good one.

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TV – Game of Thrones: Season 4: A+

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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.

Movie – Edge of Tomorrow: A+

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Remember in Matrix Revolutions when they had one scene with cool mecha suits fighting squiggly robots? Now imagine even cooler mech suits fighting nearly the whole movie against yet cooler and even more squiggly aliens using Groundhog Day’s premise. (Sorta. Mostly for the character arc.) Add all that up and you get a visually stunning scifi actioner that juggles its fantastic premise with humor when necessary, enough character to feel attached, and wave after wave of beautiful chaos. It wisely avoids being epic, staying focused and intimate. This very well could be war science fiction at its best since Aliens.

Movie – Godzilla: A+

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I’ve been a Godzilla fan for years, despite most of them being cartoonish at best and simply awful at worst. But not this time. This Godzilla does everything as it should. The natural disaster metaphors are clear. The danger-of-nuclear-power legacy is evident. And they found a way of making Godzilla the “good guy” without dumbing him down. The human perspective worked great, creating that confusing sense of breath-holding terror alongside humbling awe. Everything looked great too, with awesome visuals throughout (though at times at the expensive of logic). And of course, the final giant monster smackdown is almost overwhelmingly entertaining. Godzilla is finally worthy of his King of Monsters title again.

Comic – Saga vol3: A+

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Vaughan and Staples continue their reign as the greatest talents in comics. The story slows down a bit, but only to make way for yet more development for each and every character. In the midst of the tense, epic showdown toward the end of the volume, even Lying Cat gets some brief backstory. Saga continues to demonstrate a perfect merger of fantasy in a scifi setting.

Comic – B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth vol 6: The Return of the Master: A+

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Its almost as if B.P.R.D.’s creators cataloged my favorite elements from the Hellboy universe and in this volume decided to dramatically reveal them all as epically as possible. Bad guys from volume 1 and monsters from volume 12 plus the BPRD’s most awesome villain all merging on the growing apocalypse. The end of world is crashing down and it could not be more entertaining.

Comic – Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Search: A+

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Like The Promise, this volume is another fantastic complement to the series. Not only that, but it answers one of the fundamental questions remaining from the show, the mystery of Zuko’s mother. And it makes sense perfectly in context with the series, again flowing easily into the canon as if it were another episode. It also features one of my favorite spirit world denizens yet. As long as the quality remains this high, I’ll never get enough of stories in this world.