Movies became a major focus of mine after I watched the masterpiece of combined action and drama, The Dark Knight. I had always been a fan of superheroes and comics, but it wasn’t until watching Heath Ledger’s unforgettable performance as the Joker that I realized action films could be something more than mindless entertainment. My tastes have branched out since then, including a very recent exploration of horror with the chilling Babadook. But my heart will always belong to action films that don’t want the only conversation afterwards to be about how cool the explosions were. I’ve watched many fail at this (Age of Ultron, Fantastic Four, Man of Steel), but I have also watched many succeed (Netflix’s Daredevil, Jurassic World, Mad Max: Fury Road). Blockbusters should not be immediately written off as simple cash-grabs; some of them have intricate arguments and stories behind them. That said, I am even more critical of purely commercial movies, for they squander the opportunity to affect a huge audience.
Because I get my intense action from movies, the television shows I watch are largely comedies, with the exception of Netflix’s current Marvel shows (Daredevil and the upcoming Jessica Jones). I enjoy free-form insult shows like It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and The League. But the show I cannot stop watching is Rick and Morty, which follows an alcoholic grandfather as he drags his grandson on adventures throughout the universe, leading to absurd and dark humor. In a strange mix of animation and improv, an episode can move seamlessly between separate timelines, from a teen dealing with anxiety to a veterinarian proving her worth in a desperate, psychotic deer surgery. I realize how strange that sounds, but that’s exactly where the humor comes from.
I know immediately whether or not I like a movie based on what my thoughts are afterwards and whether I’m remembering cool moments or thinking about the larger intent behind them. My stubbornness can keep me from appreciating some well-loved franchises, but I’ll fight tooth and nail to defend the choices I make.