Originally, this post was going to be a “why I hate Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” rant. It would have been an in-depth look at all of the mistakes—the Rey/Ben kiss, bad writing with no emotional depth, too many fake-out deaths, what the hell was Finn trying to say to Rey, dropping Rose, Palptaine—in painfully glorious detail.
But honestly, I’m tired. I’m tired of the bitching, of dwelling on this negativity. Most of us are disappointed in the way the new trilogy ended, especially given how great a setup The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi were.
So instead, I’m going to list five amazing movie and television series that pull through where Star Wars didn’t: a great set-up and a satisfying ending. Consider it a cleansing.
5: The Lord of the Rings
Can’t beat the classics. And Eowyn’s badassery is enough to get the trilogy a spot on this website, even if the movies are otherwise very lacking in estrogen and definitely people of color.
Other than that…it’s pretty damn perfect. All loose ends get tied up, the battle scenes are intense with clear emotional stakes, and while Gollum backslides on his redemption arc, at least they didn’t half-ass any romantic tension between him and Frodo.
4: Avatar: the Last Airbender
I’ve talked about this show a lot, so I’ll keep it short: this one does almost everything right. What I want to highlight here is Zuko’s redemption arc.
While I enjoyed Kylo Ren’s narrative arc and subsequent redemption greatly, there was a problem with it. Why, exactly, is he turning away from the Dark Side? Is it because of his feelings for Rey? Guilt over his parents? Higher philosophical purpose?
The writers replied with, “Uh, all of the above!” Which is probably what annoyed so many people: it wasn’t clear.
Zuko’s redemption arc, on the other hand, is clear. He realizes that honor is not in line with what his abusive father says it is. Boom. Done. No awkward kiss required.
(Although the show never addresses what happened to Zuko’s mother, that is wrapped up in the graphic novel series that takes place immediately after the show, so definitely give that a read.)
3: Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
This anime has a lot of threads. While the core story appears simple enough—two brothers searching for the Philosopher’s Stone to undo their alchemical whoopsie—they end up in the middle of wars, politics, and godlike deities. There are over fifty characters, each with their own distinct personality and goals. Themes of what it means to be human, the pursuit of immortality, and the definition of life are handled with grace. And every single plot point gets neatly tied up in an explosive climax that takes the last six episodes of the show.
This is currently my favorite anime of all time. I squealed like a kindergartener when I found out it was on Hulu.
2: HBO’s Watchmen
This is the weirdest, coolest dystopian superhero sci-fi show ever to grace television. I’d say HBO has made up for the disappointment that became of Game of Thrones. Although this one cheats a little by having only one season, with the opportunity for more. We’ll see if they take it and where that goes.
One should note: I did not watch the movie that came out a few years ago (of which this show is apparently divorced from), nor did I read the graphic novel, which this show does reference multiple times and use as the backdrop for the series. And yet I understood everything that was happening just fine. Maybe not right away, because there’s a lot of weird shit that goes on. But it all gets explained by the end. And given the mind-bending plot twists that go on, I have to go watch it again.
1: Terminator franchise
Ah, bear with me here. I’m not talking about the third movie with the SexyMurderBot, or the clusterfuck that was movie four, or Genysis which I didn’t see and have no plans to.
I’m talking about Terminator: Dark Fate, which picks up after Judgement Day and ignores all the others.
And it. Is. Beautiful.
We have augmented women fighting robots in a car factory. We have a whole cast of Latinos speaking Spanish and leading the resistance movement. We have the Arnold Schwarzenegger terminator arguing about interior design. It’s the greatest thing ever.
Basically it pulls everything that made the first two Terminator movies great and launches them into the 21st Century.
Do note that it opens with a public shooting and child’s death. So if that’s a trigger, skip the first five minutes, get the details from a friend, and then proceed to be terrified by the most mild-mannered-looking Terminator there is.
Tell us your favorite movie and TV series in the comments so we can check them out!