Movie – Transformers: Age of Extinction: C+

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Well it worked again. I was surely done with Transformers but the siren call of fire-breathing robot dinosaurs was too much to resist. The film opens with dinosaurs getting turned into metal, teasing the only reason I’m in the theater. Then I sat through almost three hours of non-sensical and repetitive action until they finally showed up. And then didn’t talk. Or have anything to do with the dinosaurs from the beginning. Or the rest of the “plot” for that matter. Then they left without ceremony. Don’t get me wrong, they were awesome, and other new autobots who did get the screen time were fine, but not worth the dozens of pointless characters, awful dialog, aimless plotting, convoluted set-pieces, and pure excess that must be endured to get there.

Movie – 47 Ronin: C+

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47 Ronin probably has as many faults as it has ronin. The opening exposition was unnecessary, as all the Japanese people re-explain all the Japanese terms to each other over and over. Nearly every trope from Asian epics finds its way into a plot that’s honestly just a series of disjointed scenes. But man did those scenes look gorgeous. A whole bunch of cool-looking stuff happens, but nothing worthwhile exists to make you pay attention as to why it happens.

Movie – The Lone Ranger: C+

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The first Pirates of the Carribean film managed to find the right combination of campy whimsy and simple entertainment to make for a fun movie. They never quite replicated the formula in the sequels. Nor did they now after turning it into a western based on an ancient show the target demographic has never heard of. Johnny Depp and that pirates-brand action are slopply applied to a boring plot littered with western tropes. It’s sandwiched by ridiculous train action pieces, which are the best parts of the film (the second of which is aided by the Lone Ranger “theme”, the William Tell Overture.) with the trimmings in the middle tasting bland.

Movie – The Raid 2: C+

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While the The Raid: Redemption minimized the plot in order to maximize the riveting insanity, its sequel apparently decided to make up for all that lost narrative potential by forcing out a sprawling, convoluted story. There were hints at the pure action perfection of the first film, but the gap between them was wide and barren. It introduced two fantastic characters (whom I’ll dub Hammer Girl and Bat Boy) but not until way into the film and they only got two scenes each (both of which were among the better sequences). I also missed the gunplay, which was glaringly absent. Lots of true talent is evident however, as it’s full of gorgeous camera work, unique choreography, and great sound effects, but they all languish in the quagmire of the plot.

Movie – Riddick: C+

I don’t remember Chronicles of Riddick, other than that it sucked, and the opening exposition reaffirmed that memory. After that, this film attempted to recreate the first film in the series, which remains the only good one. The aliens are cool (but not as awesome as Pitch Black) and giving Vin Diesel an alien dog was just silly. All of the cast tries really hard to seem badass and edgy, but it’s all very juvenile. I continue to dislike Katee Sackhoff, though the movie did continue my minor interest in Dave Bautista. There’s a lot of dumb plot-forcing logic, a scant few awesome actionings, and very not much else.

TV – Breaking Bad: Season 1: C+

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At first it wanted to be quirky, but didn’t quite commit to that. Then it wanted to be tense, but wasn’t sure about that either. Then it thought about being bold or daring, but decided to stick with familiar territory. Overall, the whole season had 3 entertaining moments and two of them were in the first two episodes and the third was ruined by poor editing decisions. I can see how this show could improve and catch up to the hype surrounding it, but I’m not sure how it caught on so well after this mediocre inaugural season.

Movie – Quantum of Solace: C+

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It feels like the forced sequel it is. It doesn’t really do anything entirely wrong per se, but nothing really stands out. The villain couldn’t have been more boring and really didn’t seem all that villainous. Things happen and then it ends. It’s wholly unremarkable and unengaging.

Movie – No: C+

I have a feeling that No had the same goal as Argo, a dramatic look at a real event but leveled by the humorous (and true) approach toward the problem. But while Argo succeeded at this attempt, the humor in No is too subtle and too infrequent and the drama is too unfocused. It was also shot with period equipment, which is an interesting idea, but only justified in this context by the documentary style, which I don’t think was the right choice for the subject.

Movie – The Wolverine: C+

There were tons of characters I found impossible to care about, all with motivations I couldn’t be bothered to decipher. I can’t find fault in Jackman’s portrayal as he knows the character so well by now.  Silver Samurai was cool but took too long to show up, and Viper wasn’t interesting enough to carry as much as the film wanted. It was better than Origins of course. How could it not be. But not by enough.

Movie – End of Watch: C+

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Some writer or exec must have been watching reruns of Cops and decided it needed to be a movie. There wasn’t much of a narrative arc at all and tons of time jumps. The odd commitment to the hand-camera subgenre just didn’t work, especially during scenes without the main characters. I kept expecting something to tie the scenes together in some meaningful way but then there’s a climax and the movie ends abruptly.