Avatar: The Last Airbender

Creators: Michael Dante DiMartino, Bryan Konietzko
Staring: Zach Tyler, Mae Whitman, Jack De Sena
Streaming: Netflix
Aired: 2005-2008

Alright, yes, I finally saw it. Avatar: The Last Airbender is the favorite TV Show of my girlfriend, and I had always wanted to watch it, so we watched it together. While I wasn’t completely engulfed in it, the show was very entertaining and surprised me with its in-depth storytelling.

Avatar: The Last Airbender blended long-term story telling with short-team fulfillment VERY well. It is funny because of all the main characters, the one I connected with the least was Ang. He acted as a facilitator for many others earning their life experience stripes.

Visually, Avatar: The Last Airbender has some visual moments that are incredible. Like no joke, I was dazzled like I was watching lightsaber battles for the first time.

Overall, I really did enjoy the show. It is one of the best animated shows I have ever seen.

  • I think Avatar: The Last Airbender benefited GREATLY from being only three seasons. Not sure if that was the plan from the start, but it allowed for a coherent story from start to finish.
  • Alright, this is a basic answer, but Zuko is the best character from the show. However, I think I relate most to Sokka. Him and I have the same sense of humor, and I respect his character growth a ton.
  • Let’s be frank, Zuko and Katara are both attractive people by the end of the show.
  • HOW THE HELL IS JET DEAD??? This is no joke my biggest gripe with the show; we don’t know when people are dead. I had no idea that Jet died in his farewell episode. I looked at Emma next to me and just asked super confused…”Is he dead?”…and she nodded and I got pissed. THEN, IN THE SEASON TWO FINALE, ANG DIES BUT IT IS SO FAST AND RUSHED THAT NOBDODY NOTICES!
  • I thought for sure that Ang was going to die at the end of the show…but he didn’t. It was a very child like ending to the show, and while as an adult I can think of ways I’d alter it, I was reminded that it is a kids show.
  • I will be watching The Legend Of Korra eventually.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Director: David Fincher
Writers: Steven Zaillian, Stieg Larsson
Staring: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Stellan Skarsgård
Streaming: Netflix
Release Date: December 21, 2011

When I saw this available on Netflix, the first thing I did was go to YouTube and watch the trailer. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo has one of the best trailers I have ever seen.

But in terms of the movie itself, TGWTDT is propulsive and Rooney Mara is a gravity well. Every scene she is in as Lisbeth Salander makes the movie rotate as fast as it does; Mara is the best part of the movie and makes me with the American version of the trilogy was completed.

  • There is a close up of Martin Vanger (Stellan Skarsgård) in the final sequence that’s creepy as all hell. I forgot how quick the final twist comes to fruition. Also the way Vanger talks about how Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) distrusted his instinct and walked back into the house towards danger is good stuff.
  • The rape scene in this movie maybe the worst I have ever seen. What makes it so much more disgusting is when Salander goes back to Bjurman’s (Yorick van Wageningen) apartment and he opens the door like he is a friend. He got what he deserved.
  • The last 20 minutes after Martin Vanger blows up does drag a little, but it also cleans up every bit of story leftovers…so I am conflicted. The ending with Salander going on her own again is the fitting final scene.
  • Being able to pause TGWTDT and watch it with subtitles is huge leg-up because it helps you remember the names and put faces to the multiple family members thrown at you.
  • I didn’t realize this movie got so much awards love, but I am glad it at least won one Oscar for Best Achievement In Film Editing.

Stanko Rating: A- (4.5/5 Stars)

Gretel & Hansel

Director: Oz Perkins
Writers: Rob Hayes
Staring: Sophia Lillis, Samuel Leakey
Release Date: January 30, 2020
Streaming: Amazon Prime


  • The one positive from this movie is that it looks way better than it should or than it have any rights to be. There are some shots in the woods that are very pretty to look at.
  • Gretel & Hansel is a new take on the classic tale (can you tell from the title?), but I am not that connected with audiences at all…or the screenplay? There is a lot of talking in dark rooms in Gretel & Hansel, and let me tell you, these conversations are not the same that made Game Of Thrones great.
  • What are the modern day traps that a witch would use to entice kids for an of-age Gretal & Hansel tale?

Stanko Rating: F+ (1.0/5 Stars)

Into The Wild

Director: Sean Penn
Writers: Sean Penn, Jon Krakauer
Staring: Emile Hirsch, Vince Vaughn, Catherine Keener
Streaming: Netflix
Release Date: October 19, 2007

Let me get this out of the way. I did not read the book. I think I was assigned too in high school or middle school…and I just did not.

Into The Wild, well it went into my feels. Following a long with the growth and journey of Christopher McCandless (Emile Hirsch) touched my emotions, as it did many others when this movie first came out in 2007.

Not knowing this was based off a true story and not knowing that Christopher McCandless dies at the end made this journey even more traumatizing for me. It is heartbreaking to see his own mistake doom him. The debate I know is that people would question whether his mistake was taking a stand for what he wanted to do and putting himself in a dangerous situation, or if it was an honest mistake of not knowing a root despite studying for everything.

This movie was incredible.

  • I find it very funny how the tagline for the Into The Wild is “Lose Yourself”, which everyone knows from Eminem in 8 Mile (2002). Also Into The Wild is NOTHING like a rap song.
  • The only thing I knew Emily Hirsch from was The Girl Next Door (2004), but man this proved that he could act a bit! Caught me off guard without a doubt. The balance of the movie was him because he was literally there every second of it.
  • Hal Holbrook, the old man near the end of Into The Wild, got nominated for an Oscar…but Hirsch didn’t? Looking at the nominees for actors in a leading role, we have Daniel Day Lewis (There Will Be Blood), George Clooney (Michael Clayton), Johnny Depp (Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street), Tommy Lee Jones (In The Valley Of Elah) and Viggo Mortensen (Eastern Promises). I have not seen an In The Valley Of Elah or Eastern Promises, but I for sure think that Hirsch deserved it over Depp.
  • It is hard not to be inspired by Into The Wild.

Stanko Rating: B+ (4.0/5 Stars)

The Ripper

Director: Jesse Vile, Ellena Wood
Streaming: Netlfix
Release Date: December 16, 2020

Very much just a run-of-the-mill crime drama series. The Ripper follows the investigation of a modern day “Jack The Ripper” style killer from the late 1970s in Northern England. It goes through the process that many of its contemporaries hit as well.

  • There is a very strong feminism and women’s empowerment presence after the first episode of The Ripper. It fits into the timeframe of history and revolution of the time, and it acts as umbrella for the entire mini-series.
  • The fervor of the crowd at the murder’s trail and conviction reminded me of the Ted Bundy fanaticism that has been documented in many other series/movies.
  • I wish they spent more time getting into the mind of the killer, Peter Sutcliffe. Fun fact, he died a month before the show was released due to COVID-19. Also he was blinded in prison by an attack and then medical treatments gone wrong.

STANKO RATING: C+ (3.0/5 Stars)

Steve Jobs

Director: Danny Boyle
Writers: Aaron Sorkin, Walter Isaacson
Staring: Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet
Release Date: October 23, 2015
Streaming: Netflix


Steve Jobs, the dramatic biopic portraying the man, the myth and the legend of innovation and entrepreneurship, Steve Jobs. Portrayed by Michael Fassbender, the viewers is treated to the behind the scenes conversations that shape the character of Jobs in the eyes of many that knew him

This movie is remarkable because it highlights the shadows so well. We don’t ever see the big presentations. We don’t see the big press events that where everyone saw Steve Jobs; we are enlightened to the moments no one knew about or even tends to think about.

One small thing that I just realized now is that we never see Steve Jobs outside until the final moments of the movie with his daughter when he climbs to the roof for her. It is the fire time there isn’t a ceiling above him…first time there is no limit to how far he can see upward and outward…it’s almost like him connecting with his daughter and being vulnerable unlocked how high and far he can go?

  • I want more Michael Fassbender. What happened to Michael Fassbender. He is incredible in this, as well as the highlight of the latest X-Men movies and Alien flicks. I loved him for his short stint in Haywire (2011), and he made a small show in 300 (2006) too! With that being said, the last two movies he has done are The Snowman (2017) and X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019) which both STUNK. I want more elite acting Fassbender.
  • Before this movie I had no idea who wrote the screenplay for this movie. But literally three minutes into it, I said “it has to be Aaron Sorkin” and then l looked it up and god damn it is. It is so crisp. It is hard to make so many interruptions into a conversation work so seamlessly.
  • The conversation between John Scully (Jeff Daniels) and Steve Jobs (Michael Fassbender) in the hallway surrounded by the upturned tables is just acting personified. It is two men working so well at their craft with lines crafted by a scribe.
  • It takes a lot to stand next to Fassbender, but damn does Kate Winslet burst from that shadow. Acting as Joanna Hoffman, the director of communications for Jobs, Winslet changes appearances for each era of Jobs as well as personas. Hoffman can handle anything Jobs throws at her, and Winslet’s earnestness counters Fassbenders’ shallowness.

Stanko Rating: A (4.5/5 Stars)

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