Thursday, October 10, 2013

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Now You See Me (PG-13):
Crossing the heist genre with the magician genre seems like an obvious idea, so I was surprised that something like this hadn't been done before. The movie tells the tale of simple magicians and con men pulling off various bank heists while onstage in front of audiences, and the cop who's trying to bring them down. The whole thing becomes meaningless in the last 10 minutes, but the ride to get there is a lot of fun. Jesse Eisenberg plays the same character as he always does and only irritated me about 50% of the time.

Final Grade: B

The Libertines by The Libertines:
The very first song on the album, Can't Stand Me, is catchy but the remainder of the album rolls downhill into a cesspool almost immediately. In contrast to the first song, the rest of the album is an echo chamber of miscellaneous musical noise with lead singers that are rarely on pitch, barely understandable, and not catchy at all.

Final Grade: D

The New Kingmakers by Stephen O'Grady:
This is an incredibly brief (so brief that it looks like a pamphlet more than a book) overview of the importance of software developers in the new economy, and what companies need to do to woo and retain developers. It's an interesting, if not surprising, narrative, and would probably work best as a quickie read for a boss who doesn't understand how developers are important. For someone already involved in software, there's nothing newsworthy.

Final Grade: B-

Under the Dome, Season One:
This high-concept show about a small town that becomes cut off from the rest of the world by an impenetrable dome had a pretty decent pilot that showed a lot of untapped potential. Unfortunately, the show spent the next twelve episodes going nowhere and getting progressively worse. Among its flaws:

  • Every character starts out as a caricature (in typical Pilot form), but very few characters ever see any growth or development. The lovestruck teen son introduced in the first episode is immediately cringeworthy, and then changes his motivations each episode to support the plot. Is he crazy? Secretly smart? Check whether the episode number is even or odd to determine. The sheriff's deputy comes off as a dumber, equally annoying Michelle Rodriguez.
  • Most of the show involves characters standing around and spouting exposition in boring locales. Not only does the show tell us instead of show us, it also tells us things we should be able to figure out on our own -- there are actually exposition-teens who wander around the town explaining the plot for the viewers while getting into Dawson's Creek-like drama.
  • Many scenes simply exist to move people around to different locations so they're staged for whatever the next big ensemble scene will be. Others exist only to be Windows tablet commercials.
  • Anytime an interesting idea pops up, like a shortage of supplies or a health outbreak, it's merely used to further the nonexistent plot and is generally solved completely by the end of an episode. They solved meningitis in 30 minutes.
The bottom line is that this might have been an interesting miniseries idea, but it's held back by weak acting, weak dialogue, weak plot, and being stretched into a regular multiple season show. Skip it.

Final Grade: F

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