Thursday, December 19, 2013

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

To Do List (R):
This comedy about a graduating high school senior who makes a sex to do list has an overwhelming number of familiar actors onboard, but it never quite gets out of second gear. Aubrey Plaza is too typecast with her Parks and Rec character to be someone else, and the movie starts to drag around halfway through. There are a lot of fun moments built around 1990s nostalgia, but not enough to keep the movie afloat.

Final Grade: C-

Life in a Beautiful Light by Amy MacDonald:
Amy MacDonald's third album feels like a cookie cut-out of her second album. Neither was as great as her original album, This is The Life -- too much use of quavering voice and echoes to be enjoyable.

Final Grade: C-

Super Mario 3D Land:
This was the first game to come out for the 3DS in 2011, and it still plays well after two years. I was worried that it would be closer in spirit to Super Mario 64, but it actually plays like a polished hybrid of New Super Mario Brothers and Super Mario Galaxy. The camera accentuates the 3D depth, but generally provides a fixed view of a level, rather than being freely movable. This makes the game feel more like a classic Mario game that just happens to be 3D.

The first eight worlds are pretty easy, but beating them unlocks 8 special worlds that are based on the original maps but with enough unique twists to make them feel like new levels (there's nothing as annoying as a mirror image of the original level billed as new content). As the challenge increases, levels get more frustrating (especially levels that involve outrunning Shadow Mario), but the challenge is always doable and great in small doses.

Final Grade: B+

Person of Interest, Season One:
I picked up this series as a throwaway show I could watch on my own, that Rebecca would be unlikely to enjoy since it's kind of sci-fi'y and has a lot of technology and testosterone. However, she got hooked on it immediately, and we've enjoyed it together ever since. The show (starring Jim Caviezel and Michael Emerson from LOST) tells the tale of a billionaire software developer and a Special Ops soldier who save people based on the intel of an omnipotent surveillance machine (particularly topical in these days of NSA news stories).

The first season feels a little static, sometimes playing out like a straight cop procedural, but it's well acted and fun to watch (with plenty of choreographed fights and blow-ups). The show really switches from sitcom to serial in the second season, building organically from all of the threads introduced earlier on. Many fun guest appearances abound, including Amy Acker, actors from other J.J. Abrams shows, and the dad from Veronica Mars. Highly recommended -- I don't know why more people are not aware of the show!

Final Grade: A

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