Whatcha Been Watching?

This is the place where you can confab about all the other stuff besides videogames.
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ratsoalbion
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Re: Whatcha Been Watching?

Post by ratsoalbion » June 24th, 2018, 7:26 pm

I enjoyed it too. Utterly preposterous of course, shallow and hollow - but quite possibly my second favourite in the franchise after the original - albeit after a fairly large gap.

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Re: Whatcha Been Watching?

Post by Joshihatsumitsu » June 25th, 2018, 5:37 am

I re-watch/re-visited Indie Game: The Movie, this time with my girlfriend. I had been discussing my game ideas with her, and she's been encouraging me, and I thought this might give her some insight into the difficulties and barriers that come with putting something creative out into the world (as she's not really a gamer).

Her "goods": she made a comment about Edmund McMillen, stating that he was "living authentically", and that even though the artwork was kinda gross, there was something genuine and honest about it. She ended up really liking him.

Her "bads": didn't have a high opinion of Jonathan Blow, which kinda made me laugh. For someone who wasn't really into gaming like I am, she just came to the "pretentious" conclusion pretty quickly. Kinda funny.

A lot has happened since the movie came out in 2012, but as a gateway movie that demonstrates the universal truths of putting something artistic out into a commercial space, with all the pressures and personalties that exist in that world, it holds up well. And seeing it again reminded me just how awesome Edmund Mcmillen is.

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Re: Whatcha Been Watching?

Post by duskvstweak » June 27th, 2018, 6:39 pm

Finished the second season of Westworld. As a whole, I enjoyed this season much more than the first. I enjoyed it getting a bit more personal, a bit more scifi. I do find both seasons to be stretched beyond their story, but that's the nature of television these days.

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Re: Whatcha Been Watching?

Post by duskvstweak » July 5th, 2018, 4:27 pm

So I just started the Wire. I don't like police procedurals, but I needed a show to watch while the wife was away and it clicked. I'm still on the first season but I'm enjoying it quite a bit.

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Re: Whatcha Been Watching?

Post by Chopper » July 6th, 2018, 10:05 am

I just blasted through seasons 1-4 of the Wire last month; currently bogged down in season 5 but need to keep momentum to see it through.

It's pretty good, the characters are excellent and really stay with you when it's all done and dusted.

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Re: Whatcha Been Watching?

Post by Scrustle » July 9th, 2018, 10:17 am

Not long ago I imported the BluRay collection for Avatar: The Last Airbender. It was a joy to watch through all of that again, and finally in decent visual quality too! While it's not flawless, it fixes that awful problem the DVDs had, and generally looks really nice. And of course it's still an excellent show with great character development, great pacing, brilliant animation, and a stunning finale. Very good stuff, holds up really well.

After that I decided to keep the ball rolling and continued on to The Legend of Korra. So far I've watched through the first series of that, and am a little bit in to the second. The first is still really good. Great characters as well, and brilliant animation. It was interesting to find that music is much more prominent in Korra than I remembered. Or rather it is more prominent compared to TLA. The difference is much bigger than I remember. Although coming back to this series after a while has me thinking about some things that I only had hunches about before, but didn't have the wider understanding to really properly get. The whole "Equalist" thing is a bit iffy. Amon as an antagonist is very good, but the way they present his cause has some problems I think. While obviously Amon is a bad guy himself, the way they present his wider cause comes off as a bit... misjudged? I guess going further goes in to spoilers so....
Spoiler: show
Amon may be a liar and a hypocrite himself, but the things he talks about could be pretty legitimate. The idea that Benders in this world are using their powers to oppress normal people is something that is never properly addressed, but what little we do see hints that he's actually right. We see the Triads using their powers to bully and threaten people, and many if not all the the people in high-ranking people in the government seem to be Benders too. Even if they're not actually using their powers to put people down, they still hold a position of power in no small part to their abilities. On top of that, there's the more literal case of the police all being powerful Benders too. Special even by the standards of Bending. They end up using those powers to place curfews on normal people for no reason, and then arrest them when they peacefully protest.

I guess you could maybe argue that the problem in that society is not that Benders oppress non-Benders, but rather the societal system itself allows those with power to abuse it, with that power not necessarily being Bending ability. But even so, Bending still plays a big part in that.

But something that I thought was perhaps just as worrying was how the show presents Amon when he talks, in radio broadcasts and the like. He talks about bringing justice and equality, and changing a broken system. Apart from his deep voice, there isn't really sinister in what he says. Amon's methods are objectionable, for sure, but what he says he's trying to achieve isn't. Yet the show frames these talks as being frightening and foreboding. Tense music plays as people sit around radios fearfully while this man talks about making the world a better place. It comes off like the show is far more concerned with making the viewer fear a change to the status quo, rather than justice. Even if Amon himself just wants to grab power by force and eradicate Bending from the world (not including himself of course), the idea that we are supposed to fear the idea of equality and freedom from oppression, or that the people who believe in that cause aren't worth paying attention to, is pretty troubling.
But despite that I still really liked it. Just bringing up these topics is an admirable direction for the show to take I think, even if they mess them up somewhat. Also I was really impressed watching the first few episodes of this series again too. I forgot how strong they were.

Starting the second series, so far I'm not that hot on it. I remember liking it at the time, although it also getting a bit of a negative response from the fanbase. Now I can see why. One of the biggest complaints was that the animation quality is inferior, for at least the first half of this one, because it was done by a different studio to the rest of the show. I never noticed a significant difference first time around, but this time I do. While the fight scenes are still really well done, the dialogue scenes are pretty sloppy. The character models look kind of sloppy and low detail occasionally, and they frequently feel stiff and lifeless. It makes some of the conversations feel a bit flat. Like the high quality of the voice acting isn't mirrored in the actions that the characters are actually making. There's a disconnect that feels like cutting corners, and dampens a lot of the moments that feel like they should have more impact. But weirdly, there is the occasional dialogue scene where, for a few seconds at least, it seems weirdly over-animated. Like they take am insignificant background character who only has a line or two, and massively play up their actions, to the point where the voice acting feels inappropriately muted. It's good quality animation in those spots, but still kind of jarring and awkward.

On top of that the comedic elements are not really hitting this time around either. I think the comedy moments in the first series were actually pulled off really well. They could get goofy sometimes, but not so much that they felt inappropriate for the tone of the show. Here they go too far over the top I think. Mostly with Bolin. His sidestory with his "love interest" in early episodes feels really pointless and forced. Doesn't need to be there, and just feels like an excuse to have him tag along and be the butt of a few boring repetitive jokes. The poor animation quality also ruins a lot of these moments too, draining them of any energy they otherwise could have. Varrick seems a little too much on the "wacky" side too.

The antagonist for this one tends to get a lot of hate too, but I don't mind him so much. Not in these early episodes at least. At first I think he does come across as a compelling character. He shows that he has expertise in spirituality, something that Korra wants to learn, and also seems to genuinely want to help fix a real problem. But then he suddenly turns and becomes a megalomaniac and steps up his plans to "help" the Southern Water Tribe to an absurd degree kind of out of nowhere. I can see his traditionalist ways being a source of conflict that makes sense, but starting a civil war out of nowhere is a bit ridiculous. Haven't got much further than that yet, so I can't say how things pan out. From what I remember from seeing this before, it doesn't get much better. Looking forward to seeing the flashback sequences again though.

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Re: Whatcha Been Watching?

Post by Flabyo » July 9th, 2018, 2:22 pm

I haven’t got to season 2 of korra yet, but most people I know say it’s the weaker of the four. It gets much better again after the slight dip.

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Re: Whatcha Been Watching?

Post by Todinho » July 9th, 2018, 3:57 pm

Scrustle wrote:
July 9th, 2018, 10:17 am
Not long ago I imported the BluRay collection for Avatar: The Last Airbender. It was a joy to watch through all of that again, and finally in decent visual quality too! While it's not flawless, it fixes that awful problem the DVDs had, and generally looks really nice. And of course it's still an excellent show with great character development, great pacing, brilliant animation, and a stunning finale. Very good stuff, holds up really well.

After that I decided to keep the ball rolling and continued on to The Legend of Korra. So far I've watched through the first series of that, and am a little bit in to the second. The first is still really good. Great characters as well, and brilliant animation. It was interesting to find that music is much more prominent in Korra than I remembered. Or rather it is more prominent compared to TLA. The difference is much bigger than I remember. Although coming back to this series after a while has me thinking about some things that I only had hunches about before, but didn't have the wider understanding to really properly get. The whole "Equalist" thing is a bit iffy. Amon as an antagonist is very good, but the way they present his cause has some problems I think. While obviously Amon is a bad guy himself, the way they present his wider cause comes off as a bit... misjudged? I guess going further goes in to spoilers so....
Spoiler: show
Amon may be a liar and a hypocrite himself, but the things he talks about could be pretty legitimate. The idea that Benders in this world are using their powers to oppress normal people is something that is never properly addressed, but what little we do see hints that he's actually right. We see the Triads using their powers to bully and threaten people, and many if not all the the people in high-ranking people in the government seem to be Benders too. Even if they're not actually using their powers to put people down, they still hold a position of power in no small part to their abilities. On top of that, there's the more literal case of the police all being powerful Benders too. Special even by the standards of Bending. They end up using those powers to place curfews on normal people for no reason, and then arrest them when they peacefully protest.

I guess you could maybe argue that the problem in that society is not that Benders oppress non-Benders, but rather the societal system itself allows those with power to abuse it, with that power not necessarily being Bending ability. But even so, Bending still plays a big part in that.

But something that I thought was perhaps just as worrying was how the show presents Amon when he talks, in radio broadcasts and the like. He talks about bringing justice and equality, and changing a broken system. Apart from his deep voice, there isn't really sinister in what he says. Amon's methods are objectionable, for sure, but what he says he's trying to achieve isn't. Yet the show frames these talks as being frightening and foreboding. Tense music plays as people sit around radios fearfully while this man talks about making the world a better place. It comes off like the show is far more concerned with making the viewer fear a change to the status quo, rather than justice. Even if Amon himself just wants to grab power by force and eradicate Bending from the world (not including himself of course), the idea that we are supposed to fear the idea of equality and freedom from oppression, or that the people who believe in that cause aren't worth paying attention to, is pretty troubling.
But despite that I still really liked it. Just bringing up these topics is an admirable direction for the show to take I think, even if they mess them up somewhat. Also I was really impressed watching the first few episodes of this series again too. I forgot how strong they were.
hey Scrustle remember all those years ago when we used to have big discussions about Korra here as it was coming out? Good times, in one of those times I brought up almost the exact same point that you did about the equalists and that plays into why I hate the ending of season 1 so much:
Spoiler: show
you're absolutelly right about what you're saying its really troublesome, the equalists are meant to represent the communists from the XIX century you can disagree with their methods but their goals arent evil and they point out and fight against obvious injustices in society, what Korra does that I find so bad is that it basically says "Those guys are the problem, fuck them and poverty isnt an issue!" and they never ever touch on the topic again so show is just saying you see the problem was those rable rousers really and that's it, the same thing happens in Season 3 whne they put in anarchism

In Korra the main characters protect the status quo and the villains that raise good points( and are much more interesting then our main character) are brushed off in the last 5 min of the season to wrap it up and their issues forgotten, which is why it always baffled me to hear people call this show "progressive" because it has LGBTQ characters the reality is that its a conservative show it reminded me alot of Bioshock Infinite and how the politics in both made me feel.
That animation in season 1 is gorgeous though.

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Re: Whatcha Been Watching?

Post by Scrustle » July 12th, 2018, 11:44 am

Finished off Book Two of Korra now, and yeah, this one ends up being rather disappointing. I thought perhaps knowing how things went going in would help soften the bad surprises, but I think it actually ended up having the opposite effect. It's not all bad though. Once they change back to Studio Mir, the animation quality goes back up to the usual high standard, so that's good. Scrutinizing the different animation more closely together was pretty interesting actually. It's not necessarily that Studio Mir actually had more movement in dialogue scenes. If you break down what is actually in the frame and what is moving, both Studio Mir's work and Studio Pierrot's are relatively similar in terms of what they're actually doing. But Mir seems to have a way better grasp of body language. Characters feel much more alive and expressive, just because Mir knows how to pose them better. They're not really moving much more. That's not including shots where the characters are very small on screen though. Mir is just better at keeping to model in those shots too.

Also the flashback sequences with Wan are better than I was expecting too. This is a point that I was actually worried might not hold up. I remember it being a high point because of the drastically different animation style, and seeing a different version of that world that was full of spirits, seeing the origins of Bending and such. But I had a hunch that maybe they explain things too much, or they make bad explanations for things. Getting a bit too far in to "medichlorian" territory, and making the Avatar feel much less special. Thankfully, it didn't come across that way. The explanation for things made sense, and did a good job of tip-toeing around existing lore. Managed to give a backstory for the Avatar and that world without making it feel less important or mystical. Wan's interactions with the spirits are pretty great too. The weird aye-aye one that he spends most time talking to in particular is a really fun character.

Sadly though, the rest didn't hold up that well. The antagonist goes from bad to worse. Starts off with potential, but ends pretty badly.
Spoiler: show
Focusing the story around the role of traditionalism, especially in a world where things like old magic and spirits actually exist, could have been a really interesting idea. But instead it went from that, to starting a civil war, to eventually becoming an evil kaiju god. Wanting to be in touch with the spirits and respecting them is a long way from wanting to destroy the world and erase humanity from existence because... spirits are better? I don't know. It didn't make sense. I feel like the whole concept kind of belittles itself by just being one part of this ongoing series, and as a result kind of belittles the rest of the show too. The idea of a "Dark Avatar" is something that I think actually could have a lot of potential to it. That could be done well. But it's such a huge thing, it needs to be the single threat of this story. Of Korra's story. Make that the big bad over three or four seasons, not just one of several.

The way they deal with that threat, and other events in the finale are pretty nonsensical too. A lot of it feels sort of like deus ex machina, but I don't think it actually counts as that. It is within the realms of what is possible in this setting, but at the same time does kind of come out of nowhere and doesn't have a satisfying lead-up. The way Korra also turns in to a massive kaiju just feels weird and out of place. I guess that's her energy-bending? Which she learns by meditating in a tree? Okay. Jinora helping at the end doesn't really make much sense either. I get that she's a spiritual prodigy, but what exactly did she do in that final fight where she helped Korra? I only watched it yesterday, but honestly all I remember is that she glowed and fused with Korra or something? Or gave her some power? I don't get it.

There were also some really weird narrative choices they made at the end which were just strange and unnecessary. I think these are the things that got me frustrated with this show before. They do some huge things here, that should have massive ramifications for this world, but they never make good on them. Like when they kill Raava and sever Korra's link to the old avatars. Why? All that did was destroy a really interesting narrative tool. For what, a moment of drama in the finale where it looks like there's no hope? Was destroying any chance of seeing Aang, or Wan, or Roku again really worth it for that? Then there's leaving the portals open. Korra just did it, even though that was what she was trying to stop the whole time, for no reason. Just spur of the moment, decided that was what she was going to do. Sounds pretty dangerous to me. We saw what happened during Wan's flashbacks what it was like when spirits could freely move to the physical world. Humans were almost wiped out. But even if that wasn't going to happen again, such a decision should have massive implications for that world. Completely change reality and society, and play a massive role in any major event afterwards. Yet if I'm remembering rightly, that doesn't really happen in the later seasons. Things carry on mostly as normal, but now there are a few magical creatures hanging around.
There's more I could talk about I guess, like how the twins were kind of pointless characters, how Varrick gets off way too easy, but meh. That's enough. And despite all that, I have to admit I did still enjoy watching it. Bolin's arc gets a bit better I suppose (although still never great), and the sidestory with Tenzin reconnecting with his siblings and accepting Aang's flaws as a parent were actually really well done. And even if the finale made no sense, the fight scenes were still really well choreographed and animated, and were fun to watch.

Before I move on to Book Three though, I'm going to play through the game again, since it's set during the period between these two seasons. I've always felt like that game got too much flack for what it is. It's not Platinum's best work, sure, but it's still a fun action game that has that Platinum feel to it, and is probably the best thing you could expect for a budget priced licensed tie-in game for a cartoon. It's pretty impressive in that context I think. It's also way better playing it in NG+, since that gets rid of a lot of the problems. All Bending styles and combos unlocked from the start, and the ability to skip the runner stages. Good stuff.

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Re: Whatcha Been Watching?

Post by Alex79uk » July 15th, 2018, 8:57 pm

Watched Calibre, a Netflix original movie today.

It's fantastic. Probably the best film I've seen all year. I don't want to give too much away, but it's set in Scottish Highlands and two city boys go hunting. A terrible thing happens, and there are consequences.

Check it out. Highly recommended!

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Re: Whatcha Been Watching?

Post by duskvstweak » July 16th, 2018, 3:33 pm

Ant-Man and the Wasp was fun stuff. Breezy, light-weight, and extremely standalone. It was a good time. Might be the most, "ah, just put that movie on" of the Marvel films.

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Re: Whatcha Been Watching?

Post by duskvstweak » July 24th, 2018, 3:22 pm

I just watched the three Predator films for the first time each.. Found them a bit trying at times. The first is fine, mostly held up by Arnold. The 2nd movie is fun once it gets to the second half/third act. I was enjoying Predators until the actual Predators showed up.

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Re: Whatcha Been Watching?

Post by Suits » July 25th, 2018, 8:08 am

Ha, I adore those first two Predator films, both for their own things.

Proper fantasy fuel to an 8 year old Suits.

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Re: Whatcha Been Watching?

Post by duskvstweak » July 25th, 2018, 6:23 pm

Suits wrote:
July 25th, 2018, 8:08 am
Ha, I adore those first two Predator films, both for their own things.

Proper fantasy fuel to an 8 year old Suits.
I did spend the first movie thinking, "this would have blown me away as a kid". It's kind of funny how many R-Rated action movies were made in the 80s that really had a huge kid audience. Maybe Terminator 2 was the last of those kind of films?

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Re: Whatcha Been Watching?

Post by Alex79uk » July 25th, 2018, 8:19 pm

We started watching Safe, a Netflix original series. It's a British crime drama. Ridiculous, silly, over the top acting, but hugely enjoyable!

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Re: Whatcha Been Watching?

Post by Scrustle » July 28th, 2018, 8:22 pm

I finally finished of Legend of Korra with Book 3 and 4. Spoilers on the way.

Korra Book 3 was a delight to revisit. It had its fair share of problems, but in the end I found it really enjoyable.

In terms of the good stuff I really liked how they gave Lin her own personal character arc. It was really interesting to see more of her backstory with her family. Seeing Toph again in flashbacks was cool, and her relationship with her sister was well handled. The characterisation with her struggling through her repressed issues and eventually coming to accept Suyin felt very much in-character, but with a satisfying ending too.

The arc of gathering up all the new Airbenders was pretty entertaining too. At first it drags a bit as it feels like it's not making much progress, but later on it's good to see them come together and reform the Air Nation. The way they all band together to help in the closing chapters gives them a better connection to the central threat that helps that arc feel more natural. Kai in particular is a pretty good character. Seeing him go from a dishonest street rat to someone who actually feels like he has responsibility and a place in the world is pretty good. His little romance with Jinora is pretty cute too.

Speaking of Jinora, it's very satisfying to see her finally get her tattoos at the end as well. She plays a pretty significant role in the whole Airbender arc, and steps up to help at key points too, so seeing her finally become a master is a nice payoff.

The finale in general is fantastic. Full of amazing animations and fight scenes. Korra really feels in danger this time, and it's quite hard to see her suffer as Zaheer and company are poisoning her to force her in to the Avatar State. The fight scene afterwards is brilliant too. So much movement and energy that is pretty reminiscent of the final battle of TLA in a way. Korra herself comes across as quite scary too. As she's been forced in to the Avatar State, she's lost control, and full of rage. She comes across more like a vengeful force of nature rather than an actual human being.

After the battle, during the closing moments, seeing Korra in a wheelchair after the poison has taken its toll is quite affecting too. It's hard to see her in that state, usually being the one who is always strong and never lets anything beat her. To see that even after she's won, she looks tired and defeated.

The antagonist this time around is really good too. Zaheer has some very interesting motivations. His characterisation as something of a wise monk is very apt. You get the sense that he's not exactly angry at any one person, or that he wants to destroy anything for the sake of it. He does what he's doing because he sees another version of the world that he really believes in, and wants to create. Wanting to set people free from tyranny and constricting power structures that small-minded humans set up to benefit themselves at the expense of others. He's somewhat like Amon in that way. His motivation makes sense, and are pointed towards real issues. You could even say he's better than Amon in the sense that he actually believes in his ideas, rather than using them as a tool to gain power himself.

But there were a few things that didn't stand up so well about Book 3 as well. Despite Lin getting a decent arc devoted to her character development, none of the central cast did. One of the bug problems I always had with Korra the first time watching it was how they felt like each season was something of a reset. They build up a great starting point to work from for future seasons, but instead of taking that ball and running with it, they instead feel like they want to scrap things and start fresh. Before I used to think of that as being a very setting or lore focused problem. Watching through this time though, I didn't have anywhere near as much problem with how they handled those aspects. The far bigger problem was how they decided to hit reset on the main cast's character relationships. They did a good job of building them up in Book 1, but it seems between every season they just come up with new ways to tear them apart so they can come back together, but with less development each time. I'll be coming back to that later with Book 4 too.

Another problem is how long it takes for Zaheer to reveal himself. A lot of his early activities are very cryptic, so he doesn't feel like much of a fleshed-out character, or much of a threat. It's hard to feel like he's a compelling antagonist when you don't know who he is or what he wants. Thankfully by the time they do get around to that, they do a great job with it. But it takes way too long to get there. It's somewhat mitigated by the Airbender arc taking up the focus in the earlier parts of the season, but given the slow start to that as well, it definitely could have been handled better.

Speaking of Zaheer and his motivations, the way the show treats him yet again reveals its implicit bias towards support of the status-quo over actually changing anything for the better. Even if his methods were not agreeable, he still made a very good point. We see through the story that this world is full of horrible, exploitative leaders. The leader of Republic City throws Korra under the bus when things are going badly, and the Earth Queen is a despot and completely irredeemable. Korra even agreed about those things! Yet by the end when Zaheer is defeated, there's still no consideration that maybe protecting existing power structures that are clearly unjust and hurting people for the sake of maintaining the status-quo is maybe not the best idea.

Also a somewhat minor point is P'Li's death scene. Maybe I'm remembering this wrong, but I swear this was edited from how it originally aired. If it wasn't, then it was always sloppily handled in a way that just stinks of last-second editing. I can see why they did it, but the way they did it ends up lacking a huge amount of impact that it otherwise would have. I get that you can't show someone's head exploding in a kids cartoon, even if it's aimed at a somewhat older audience. But the way it's cut makes it feel like the moment itself was just snipped right out of the show, and a cheap smoke effect was slapped on top of the aftermath. On top of that, I don't think they would even need to change much from this cut to give it the impact it should have. I don't need to see flaming brain matter flying at the screen or anything like that. They could have simply splice in an explosion sound effect at the appropriate moment. Just before Zaheer turns to see what has happened. Easy fix.

So in spite of the problems, I really liked this one. I was wondering if Zaheer could stand up as a good antagonist, and I was a little hesitant at first since it took so long to get to him, but in the end he delivered. And that finale, wow. Really great stuff. Really enjoyed Lin in this one too.

Okay, on to Korra Book 4. Unlike the other seasons, this is the first time I've seen Book 4 since it originally aired. Although I guess "aired" isn't the right term, since by then it was all distributed through the Nickelodeon website, as Nick seemed absolutely intent on making this show fail. But that's another issue. Point is, I picked up all the BluRays for Korra as soon as they came out, except this one. Only picked it up recently for this viewing. Was interested to see how it held up, since I remember it not being the best. Thus why I didn't bother to pick it up sooner. And I was pretty much right. But the good bits first!

The early episodes are really fantastic. Despite the massive time skip between Book 3 and 4, through all that time Korra never fully recovers. So in the early episodes here, they focus on Korra trying desperately to regain her former strength. For a long time she's struggling and weak. It's pretty hard to watch, and very affecting. Quite powerful stuff sometimes. And it's not just about her physical strength, but her emotional battle too, as she tries to overcome the trauma that is holding her back. Having flashbacks to her conflict with Zaheer, trying to accept and overcome things. The show really shines in these episodes, when Korra herself is in a really dark place.

Part of that arc also includes the return of Zaheer, which was really good to see. Even though he's only in it for a short part, seeing Korra confront him in prison, and their conversations together was really cool. Especially given how Zaheer is actually quite welcoming and helpful. He ends up aiding Korra, since he agrees with her that Kuvira has to go down. Maintaining his philosophy of freedom from oppressive power, and his peaceful and detached personality, ends up seeing him almost switch sides in a very convincing way.

Another great part that ties in to this arc is seeing Toph back. Her characterisation is pretty great. They nail her personality really well. She totally feels like an older version of the Toph from TLA, and seeing her interact with Korra as they get on each other's nerves was pretty entertaining, and very in keeping with how one might expect those two to be with each other. On a similar note, the characterisation of all the old returning characters is pretty great. Katara, Zuko, even Sokka during his brief appearance in a flashback in Book 1. And Iroh too. He's probably the best. Such a great part of Book 2, and even his minor appearance in Book 3.

But that's all I can say is good about this one. And much of that wasn't even talking about Book 4. Plenty of bad to talk about though.

The biggest problem is that the antagonist is just boring. Kuvira isn't really interesting. She doesn't have an interesting personality, or a strong or intriguing philosophy. She's just a tyrant. Openly wanting nothing but control through force. She's even kind of a massive hypocrite too. In the moment when she announces her plans to take over the world and depose the existing Earth Kingdom monarchy for being weak leaders who cling to power through a bloodline, she announces herself leader of an empire. Because an empress is totally different from a queen.... Although to give some credit, the show did at least attempt to explore an antagonist who exemplifies the evils of desiring stability through strength and threats of violence. But it's somewhat ironic that it ends up making for a much less compelling antagonist. The reason why previous antagonists were good ended up being a problem in how they were handled. Here they tried to fix how they handled their antagonist, and ended up making a bad one. Mirrored flaws in a way.

Another big problem is, as I mentioned earlier, the way the main cast has so virtually no development. They separate the characters by such a huge gap this time, and to the absolute least to bring them back together too. It makes the problem by far the worst here than it was at any point before, thanks to the three year time skip. The main cast don't feel close at all, and for much of the season aren't even in contact with each other. They had such a great dynamic in Book 1, and even in Book 2 to a certain degree. Here there's just nothing. This season instead focuses a lot on plot over characters, and with the poor antagonist, it suffers a lot.

Varrick also plays a big role in this one, with his own arc. He starts off working with Kuvira, but ends up turning against her, and eventually marrying Zhu Li in the end. It doesn't feel like it's properly earned in the slightest. His sudden growth of a conscious out of nowhere is even pointed to and played as a joke in the show! And the "romance" at the end feels fake and rushed, and Varrick doesn't really deserve it.

Similarly, there's Korra and Asami's ending. I remember this actually being a good point watching it originally, that was handled well. I thought even though their relationship was short, it felt believable to have ended with them being romantically involved. This time through though, I don't think that at all. It feels like it comes out of nowhere. While Korra only sends letters to Asami, you don't get the impression there's anything romantic about it. And that's only for a very short period near the start of the season. Their relationship doesn't grow later once they finally meet face to face again. Even when they walk off together in to the spirit portal it doesn't really seem like they're romantically involved. Sure, they look like they're close and care for each other, but not so much more than they were good friends. And even saying that they were "close" doesn't feel right, because it's not like they had built up that closeness earlier. I know that the writers actually were going for that romantic intention, and perhaps they were not allowed to do things the way they wanted with this still technically being a "kids show", but even regardless of all that, I didn't get the sense that these two characters had grown together much in any way.

The final confrontation wasn't that interesting either. While the animation of the show was still of a very high quality, and there are plenty of decent fight scenes throughout the season, the ending battle feels a bit flat. It doesn't have that dynamic feeling the others do. It's not two amazing elemental wizards at the top of their game battling it out, in a monumental clash of ideologies. It's just some ants fighting a giant robot. Sure, there are a few cool shots in there, and Kuvira's super-weapon is intimidating. But overall it feels slow and plodding. There isn't a dramatic back-and-forth of blows, and the cinematography and choreography don't feel that inspiring. So yeah, kind of flat.

And lastly, one of the episodes is a clip show!! Just a pointless recap of some (not even all) of the stuff that happened in previous seasons! A real waste of time that didn't need to be there. Although, I have to admit, that episode did make me realise that maybe the romantic subplot in Book 2 wasn't that bad. It was certainly better than nothing. And Varrick's story about Bolin being the hero of the entire show was kind of funny too. But still, a pretty pointless episode. Maybe the only episode of Korra I would say is worth skipping.

So finally that's that. Korra all done, and my ramblings (almost) all done. In the end, Book 4 was underwhelming, as I was kind of expecting. I always find myself comparing it to Book 2, as these two are easily the lesser seasons. Book 2 gets way more hate than 4, yet I've never been sure I agree. After watching Book 2 again and thinking it was worse than I remember, I was thinking that maybe I would start agreeing with everyone else, but after watching 4 again, I'm back to being unsure. Some stuff in 2 may be worse than I remember, but other stuff stood up well, and upon reflection now there's even more I thought wasn't so bad about it. 4 is somewhat similar in that some bits are worse than I remember, but other bits are better. In the end I think I still have to stick with 2 being better than 4, but only just. Overall my ratings go 1 > 3 > 2 > 4.

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Joshihatsumitsu
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Re: Whatcha Been Watching?

Post by Joshihatsumitsu » August 17th, 2018, 12:14 am

In the better-late-than-never department, I caught up with all three seasons of Tokyo Ghoul (subbed, never dubbed).

In a brief and spoiler-free way, I will say I was totally on-board for seasons one and two - both seasons had a strong story arc, and by the end of each season there was a solid, satisfying conclusion.

Season three does the smart thing of
Spoiler: show
starting two years after the events of season two
but it feels like a less focused season. Some of that may due to introducing new characters, not really spending much time with them, or they're not really that important. By the finale it felt like there were more questions raised than answered, and lots of loose ends.

I still liked it, but there is a noticeable dip. But overall, if you'll like me and are a bit behind on things, then I'd still recommend it.

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Alex79uk
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Re: Whatcha Been Watching?

Post by Alex79uk » August 17th, 2018, 11:19 am

Finished season two of The Handmaid's Tale last night. Still just top quality stuff.

Looking forward to season two of Ozark starting soon, as well as second season of The Sinner, and I really need to catch up with Better Call Saul too.

However, before any of that, I think I'm going to check out Castle Rock, a new original series set in the Steven King universe.

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duskvstweak
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Re: Whatcha Been Watching?

Post by duskvstweak » August 17th, 2018, 4:31 pm

Alex79uk wrote:
August 17th, 2018, 11:19 am

However, before any of that, I think I'm going to check out Castle Rock, a new original series set in the Steven King universe.
I've been hearing so many mixed things. Let us know what you think!

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Stanshall
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Re: Whatcha Been Watching?

Post by Stanshall » August 18th, 2018, 7:39 am

I've started watching Claymore, a medieval anime series, after seeing the manga as a very common recommendation for fans of Berserk. I'm unlikely to persist, though, because it has too many anime tropes for my very limited patience. I'll give the manga a go, nevertheless, at some point.

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