Netflix Mini-Review – She-Ra and the Princesses of Power (Seasons 2-4): It Got Better

After a mediocre first season, I was told to check in on She-Ra again. The results were promising.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

Following the Battle of Bright Moon at the end of Season 1, all of the princesses are now united as one force against the Horde and their leaders: Hordak (Keston John), Catra (AJ Michalka), and Shadow Weaver (Lorraine Toussaint). In the second season, we see the first attempts by Adora/She-Ra (Aimee Carrero), Glimmer (Karen Fukuhara), and Bow (Marcus Scribner) to decipher a message from outside of the planet while leading a force composed of the other princesses: Perfuma, Frosta, Netossa, Spinnerella, and Mermista (Genesis Rodriguez, Merit Leighton, Krystal Joy Brown, Noelle Stevenson, and Vella Lovell). In Season 3, princess Entrapta (Christine Woods) is working with Hordak and Catra accidentally almost destroys reality. In Season 4, the team must deal with the fallout of Entrapta’s and Catra’s actions and must work to stop Hordak from cracking the ancient secret of Etheria. 

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So many characters… but Entrapta’s still the best. 

END SUMMARY

So, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the first season of this show. Almost every episode beyond the first one seemed formulaic and way too gimmicky. Every episode basically was “we find a new princess, solve her problem, she joins the team.” The second season was, at least, not repetitive, but it still had trouble finding its feet in terms of story direction and characterization (a few character personalities just seemed to change periodically). The third and fourth seasons, however, did show a remarkable increase in focus and cohesion. The arcs of the seasons made sense, were consistently paced, and actually had some weight to them.

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It also metes out our “Adora vs. Catra” time pretty well, which we need.

The show did expand its focus on what is clearly the best part of the show: The interplay between the characters. We see Entrapta becoming “friends” with Hordak through their shared love of technology and Catra becoming jealous due to her insecurities. We see Scorpia (Lauren Ash) develop and finally try to act on her crush on Catra (with may not be romantic, I think it’s ambiguous). Despite the fantasy setting, most of the emotions are completely human and relatable to the viewer. Most of the character arcs, similarly, are understandable and fun.

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Seriously, find someone who looks at you the way that Scorpia looks at Catra.

While I still have issues with some parts of the writing (mostly that someone in the room needs to learn that there are more types of humor than “sarcastic monotone” and “wacky reactions”), I do appreciate that the show has gotten better. I still don’t put it up there with Gravity Falls or Adventure Time in terms of good children’s shows, but it is pretty good. Also, it’s up there with Steven Universe in representation, which is always a good thing when done organically like those shows do. 

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Netflix Review – Delirium: Old Dog, not Enough New Tricks (Spoiler-Free)

UPDATE: Forgot to hit “Update” after adding the pictures and I’m currently working, so I’ll redo this later.

It’s a pretty old concept that someone experiencing madness might be indistinguishable from someone who is dealing with the supernatural. The Tell-Tale Heart, The Turn of the Screw, Young Goodman Brown, these are just the ones I can name off of the top of my head that are more than 100 years old. So, naturally, writers, and later filmmakers, have had a long time to play around with it. Some of them have been great horror films, like the original The Haunting, and some have been not-so-great, like Hellraiser: Inferno. This one is kind of in the middle.

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Sometimes the crazy person IS the monster.

SUMMARY

Tom Walker (Topher Grace) is a recently released mental patient. Upon his release, he’s informed that his father (Robin Thomas) has recently committed suicide and given him everything in the will, including his family’s mansion. Tom has to live there for 30 days on house-arrest as one of the conditions of his release. His parole officer, Brody (Patricia Clarkson), is rooting for him to fail, based upon the horrible nature of the crime that got him committed in the first place.

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They’re an odd couple… just not the funny kind.

Shortly after moving in, Tom begins to have minor hallucinations and starts to discover secrets within his father’s house. He tries to seek help from local delivery girl Lynn (Genesis Rodriguez), but fantasy and reality continue to blend. This is only amplified when Brody takes his medication away, leading Tom to be uncertain what aspects of what he sees are real or just in his head, including images of his dead father and his abusive brother (Callan Mulvey).

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Also, he fights Captain America at one point. And Spider-Man.

END SUMMARY

Like I said, there are a lot of movies and stories that involve an unreliable narrator whose mental state may be changing reality. In this film, the first thing we know about Tom is that he has hallucinations, so, naturally, we assume that what he’s seeing is a hallucination. In fact, one of the first times we see a ghostly image in the movie, we are told that what we are seeing is just a hallucination. The problem is, that makes it seem much more likely throughout the movie that we’re just seeing hallucinations when it comes to the supernatural elements. In fact, the only things that really evoked the question of “is this real” are his interactions with characters that were previously established as being alive and potentially there. It kind of robbed a lot of the film of the tension.

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I mean, this scene is good, but much of the pressure is removed. 

The parts where he appears to be discovering the house’s hidden passages and rooms, while they do contain elements that appear to be in his head, are pretty much portrayed as unambiguously real, meaning all of the secrets he finds are genuine. It also doesn’t help that our main character constantly believes that nothing happening to him is real, which means that we are less likely to believe it could be real. Again, it kind of robs the tension.

The big upside of the film is that Topher Grace’s performance is pretty solid. His character’s connection to the pool, which later has even more significance, is actually a good use of “show, don’t tell,” something of which I am a major proponent. The backstory to his imprisonment is pretty grim and the sequence expanding on it is done well. The connection between violence, madness, and each of the family members is a good theme that deserved exploration, even if it wasn’t explored enough. Patricia Clarkson is wasted within most of the film, with my response to her character ranging from “what” to “huh.” 

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However, ultimately, the movie can’t exactly decide what parts it wants us to think are real and what parts it doesn’t. It then starts to shove a bunch of resolutions in the audiences’ collective face which feel somewhat random and unearned. It’s not a bad film, but don’t put it at the top of your list.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.