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Whirlwind Travel Ratings, Part Two

Whew! I spent a month traveling in Europe, flying every weekend, with two long international flights of more than sixteen hours each, so I watched a lot of the shows and movies on my backlog. I covered some of them earlier, so here are the rest:

Secret Invasion ★☆☆☆☆

This is the weakest Marvel show yet. It spends the whole season developing a story that just isn’t very interesting, and the pacing is all wrong—it is slow going until the last episode, which seems to hurry to wrap things up, which it ultimately fails to do; it just ends with everything up in the air. I guess it was setting up the upcoming Captain America and The Marvels? Really not good. Marvel has truly lost their way with this phase.

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 2 ★★★★☆

There’s still one episode to go, but I’m ready to call it a success. It’s really been riffing in a way that could come across as incoherent, but it makes it all work. There’s a comedy-ish crossover with Lower Decks, followed by an exciting, dark episode about the Klingon war started in Discovery, and then back to a more lighthearted musical episode. The cast is great, and the chemistry between the characters gelled very quickly, making this my favorite Trek in a long time.

The Diplomat Season 1 ★★★☆☆

The acting and core characters are great in this opening season. It can veer a little too close to soap opera in moments, but stays shy of getting cringy. Mostly, it’s well-written and well-acted, and the relationships really develop well over the course of this season. I’m looking forward to season two.

Silo Season 1 ★★★☆☆

This is on the verge of being a ★★★★☆ series for me, but it ends with a little too much of the core story unresolved. It’s ultimately a mystery/detective show set in a (possibly?) post-apocalyptic setting. It manages to do quite a lot of world building and establishes a lot of strong characters and mysteries in a relatively short time, but it just doesn’t bring closure to enough of them before the season ends, making it feel like it just stops. Still, I’ll definitely be back for season two.

Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers ★★★★★

I’ve seen these multiple times before, although it’s been many years now. My daughter is now old enough to appreciate them, I think, and she was with me on one of the long flights, so we watched two of them. They both hold up well, although I’m reminded that they are both long movies that seem to go slow and fast at the same time: there’s so much condensed into a movie format, yet so much left unexplored. Now that we’ve seen Middle Earth in a premium streaming format (The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power on Amazon ★★★☆☆), I wish we had a version of these stories in the longer format, with more room to breathe. Still, Peter Jackson managed to do an overall amazing job making movies out of hard-to-translate source material, and I’m happy that my daughter has a good intro to Lord of the Rings.

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Recent Movies, July 2023

While I’m on the kick of rating recent media consumption, here are some quick ratings for new movies I’ve seen this year, from best to worst:

Whirlwind Travel Ratings, Part One

As I mentioned earlier, I’m traveling a lot this month, and that means I’ve been making my way through my backlog of things to watch. In no particular order, here are my thoughts about each:

Still on the list:

  • The Boys Seasons 3-4
  • Peacemaker
  • The Witcher
  • Dune
  • Shazam: Fury of the Gods
  • Black Mirror Season 6
  • The Diplomat
  • Foundation
  • Silo

I’ve still got more than 20 hours of travel ahead, so I’ll certainly knock some of those out before I get back home. I’m also keeping up with Secret Invasion and Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 2 as they come out, so I’ll add them to the list once they’re done.

The Patriarch

I’m flying a lot this month, and have been taking the opportunity to watch Succession (★☆☆☆☆) and see what the fuss is all about. I’m generally pretty forgiving of rough starts—it can take time for a show to find its footing and set things up. I’m now in the second season, and this is not HBO-worthy in my opinion, and I’m not seeing what the big deal is. It’s an expensive soap opera with two-dimensional characters, and it’s not particularly well-acted.

I thought the same about Yellowstone (★★☆☆☆)—it’s essentially the same show, but set in the West instead of New York. They’re both about a rich, powerful family patriarch who is getting old and is worried about his legacy. He dominates everything he touches, tortures his (mostly terrible) children, and generally chews up the scenery. I got to the second season of both before deciding that they just didn’t have much more up their sleeve and bailed out. They’re both missable, but I’d give the nod to Yellowstone between the two—its characters are better.

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