Sunday, May 29, 2016

Game of Thrones S6E6 Blood of My Blood Recap/Review (Spoilers!): Reveals and B Storylines

Blood of My Blood kicked off the second half of season six of Game of Thrones with some big reveals and catching up lesser storylines. Overall the episode was executed well, but after the gripping climax from last week this episode fell flat. The episode was trying to advance storylines which haven’t progressed much during the season.  The stories didn’t get far, and the ones that did where anticlimactic.

The biggest and best reveal of the night was North of The Wall with Bran and Meera. We picked up right from the conclusion of last week’s episode and saw a mysterious rider save the pair from the wights. It was a good action scene and the fire ball chain mace was a nice touch. The reveal of the rider’s identity solves a mystery from the first season and the first book, the fate of Benjen Stark. We learn Benjen was attacked by the White Walkers and would have died and turned into a wight if not for the Children of the Forrest. The writers of the show then confirmed after the episode Benjen is the same character as Coldhands in the books, which has long been speculated. It will be interesting to see what powers he has in the show, and how well he can protect Bran from White Walkers and wights, until his confrontation with the Night King. The two scenes north of the wall had the most impact on the overall story of the show. The other stories were anticlimactic, just more setup, or not needed.

The story with Sam and Gilly isn’t needed for the show. Sam making a trip to Horn Hill was pointless other than him taking his father’s sword. The only reason Sam took Gilly to his home was to leave her there, and he ended up leaving with her. Sam should have already been at Oldtown learning to be a Maester. They could have easily found a way for his father to visit him, and for Sam then to take the sword. This would have advanced the story of his schooling and wouldn’t have wasted twenty minutes of the episode on pointless humiliation of Sam. We know his father was horrible to him, we know Gilly loves him. There was no point in reinforcing these aspects of the story. The scenes were well acted, and shot well, they just weren’t needed for the show. Hopefully now we can actually see Oldtown and how people become Maesters. This could be another boring storyline, but I’m excited to finally see The Citadel.

I thought we were going to finally see the High Sparrow put in his place, but he outmaneuvered everyone and manipulated poor Tommen. Margery had a hand in his manipulation, because she didn’t see anyone coming to her rescue. I don’t blame her for finding a way out of the walk of shame, but it proves the High Sparrow is out for power, the same as everyone else. It was an anticlimactic way to finish the storyline. It would have been nice to see some fighting, but it had the effect of moving Jaime’s story forward. Jaime’s story has been a departure from the books, and one I’ve most disappointed in. His growth in the books is phenomenal, going from someone you loathe, to someone you want to succeed and overcome his trails. He is now going to the Riverlands to help The Frey’s which is where he spends his time in the books. With him and Brienne going to the same spot the show could introduce a character from the books which has been lacking. The story pointing to this reveal was my second favorite part of the episode.

The other storyline briefly touched on before the conclusion was with Arya. It was good to see her make a decision, and leave the temple of the Many Faced God. She doesn’t want to be an assassin for hire, she still wants to be Arya Stark and take revenge on those who did her wrong. It would have been nice to actually see the conclusion to the story tonight and have her fight. She will surprise them when she puts Needle to use with all she has learned. Her story wasn’t pointless, but it would have been nice to see her reach this conclusion sooner. She has been trained the entire season to this point, and now threw it all away.  I was hoping for her to stay in the order, but trick them into thinking she was truly one of them.

The ending of episode was a great conclusion. It was fantastic to see Danny riding her dragon and inspiring the Dothraki. I liked her speech and glad they kept it in Dothraki, but what was the point? She already has united the Dothraki.. She did this when she walked out of the fire and everyone bowed to her. Flying Drogon down and uniting the Dothraki was how I wanted the last season to end. I’m glad we got a Dragon moment, but it wasn’t really needed for the show. We know what she is planning to do, and that the Dothraki are going to follow her. It was still an amazing scene, but was still not necessary with how they have advanced her story to this point.

This episode was my least favorite of the season. It was anticlimactic from where the show was building from last week. The show had setup a great confrontation in King’s Landing, and didn’t deliver. Arya’s storyline could have finished tonight, but didn’t because a chunk of the episode was watching Sam have dinner with his Dad. Still, even with the issues it was still an entertaining hour of television, and most of the problems are nitpicks. A great show can’t be epic every episode. I just wish tonight had more payoff.

What did you think of tonight’s episode? Were you letdown or did you enjoy all the storylines showed tonight? Comment and let me know. 

Saturday, May 28, 2016

X-Men: Apocalypse - Movie Review: More Superheroes with Family Problems

I now want a Deadpool and Quicksilver buddy road trip movie.

X-Men Apocalypse the 4th X-Men movie directed by Bryan Singer. Starring James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Oscar Isaac, Jennifer Lawrence, Sophie Turner, and a host of other actors playing mutants. In the 6th titled X-Men movie an ancient mutant awakes and wants to take over the world. He gathers a group of four powerful mutants to help him in his plot. The rest of the X-Men must reunite and try and stop him from destroying the world.

X-Men Apocalypse is not the best X-Men movie. It is no were near as bad as X3 or Wolverine Origins, but it doesn’t quite stack up to the other four X-Men movies. I still enjoyed watching Apocalypse and will watch it again. The action is well done, the performances overall are good, and the story is decent. It just isn’t a home run like a few of the other X-Men films from Singer. The movie also pulls hard on some nostalgia heart strings. I couldn’t helped but be sucked in from the opening credits and the theme music. Then seeing many of the original sets from the first two films was a nice touch.

While the sets where familiar many of the faces portraying the X-Men are new. Overall the new additions for the most part are great. The one that completely stood out is Sophie Turner as Jean Grey. She did a great job of handling the teenage aspect of a mutant coming into her powers. I thought the ending with her was extremely powerfully and satisfying. I look forward to seeing her in the next X-Men movie along with the new Cyclopes. Tye Sheridan did a good job in his portrayal of Scott Summers, though he was a bit too brooding for my taste. Nightcrwaler was perfect, and I enjoyed him as much as I did during X-Men 2. The highlight for the heroes was the return of Quicksilver who stole the film in almost every seen he was in. The problem with all of these characters is that the movie felt too jam packed and not enough time was used to develop everyone.

The underdevelopment of the characters was mainly on the villain side. Storm had very little development for why she joined forces with Apocalypse. There was no motivational reasons for Psylocke and Angle to join him. They just did. Olivia Munn did a great job with her action, but she didn’t have much else to do. The last fight she had was well done, but forced into the movie. The other recruit, Magneto, is the most developed, but that is because he has been in every single movie. Fassbender does a great job with the role again, but I didn’t believe his storyline. He was too easily swayed in this film. I like it when he is a rock in his ideals, and he was very far from that in this movie. The main event which makes him become easy to manipulate was comical. It wasn’t believable and really took me out of the film. I understand his motivations after the event happened, they just should have used a more plausible scenario.

Which is my main gripe with Apocalypse. The film opens with a ritualistic ceremony in Ancient Egypt and we see high tech equipment being used in the pyramids. It’s never established how this technology came to be, maybe it is in the comics. I went with it, but the film gives unneeded exposition in the third act, and it would have been nice to get some here. Oscar Isaac does a great job with the role. He is menacing and has some great powers. The end fight with him is very well done and a highlight of the movie. I like the encounters Professor X has with him and the uncertainty each of those encounters has to the film. Each of those struggles was well done, and had me on the edge of my seat.

Though the emotional payoff for the final fight would have been better if Singer would have added something with more emotional weight. It seemed like he was going for those moments a few times, but pulled back. The lack of emotion could be credited to the one person who I didn’t totally enjoy in the film, Jennifer Lawrence. I don’t t think she mailed in the performance, but it wasn’t her best effort. From every trailer leading up to the movie her line delivery felt flat. It was a bit better in the context of the film, but as a pivotal character a better performance would have improved the overall result of the movie

It sounds like I am bashing on this movie, but I had a fun time watching it, and I will watch it again. I think certain story elements in the film felt rushed and underdeveloped, and other parts bloated. Maybe a director’s cut of this film would improve the end results. I still look forward to the next X-Men movie with or without Bryan Singer. All of the actors inheriting the roles did a good job and I want to explore more stories with them. I think if you are a superhero movie fan you will enjoy this movie. If you are getting tired of the superhero genre this one is still Worth Seeing, but you could probably wait for rental.

Did you see X-Men Apocalypse yet? If so what did you think? Where does it rank within the X-Men films?  If you haven’t seen it are you going to wait for rental? Are you tired of superhero movies? We already have 4 released this year with some more to come. Comment and let me know your thoughts. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

When Should Kids Watch... Deadpool?? - Movie Review

Wait, they didn’t go ahead and make the PG-13 version because of that online petition?? I thought that was a sure bet.

Deadpool is now available for home viewing and I’m sure many eager young boys and girls have found ways to sneak watching the R rated comedy super hero film. “Cool” parents might have even let many of their children watch the film within the last few weeks. Many parents went ahead and took their kids to see the film in the theatre from what I read and heard online. When should kids get to watch this film? Each child is different and should be evaluated on a case by case basis, but I’ll try to break it down for when I will let my boys view this raunchy comedy.

Deadpool received its R rating for numerous reasons. The first being is gratuitous violence, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I’m not sure it’s graphic nature is going to really affect a young pre-teen or teenager, but any younger than that and I can see the visuals having a negative impact. You do have Deadpool blowing the heads off of five or six guys in one shot, then cutting off his own hand. It still is all framed in a comical light, which takes the seriousness out of him brutally murdering multiple bad guys. The violence is perfect for the film, but younger children would be affected by the visuals. I know I can still vividly see violent acts in films that I saw too young. I try to remember how those scenes affected me before I let one of my kids watch a particularly violent scene.

Along with the violence comes the sex and language. There are a plethora of both. Language being the most prevalent throughout the entire movie. It seems every other word is a curse word within the movie, but it never gets old because of the way it is used for the character in the film. I usually have no issue with exposing my older child, who is almost twelve, to language at this point. I know by the time I was his age I had already heard and probably used most of the word used in the film. However to fully appreciate the artistry Deadpool employs with his use of foul language you have to be a little bit older to understand it’s brilliance, but also still be bit juvenile in your thinking.

Most of the sex jokes and references are going to go over young kids head, but that still doesn’t mean they should be exposed to it. I think seeing strippers dance and sex scenes are probably less damaging to kids than violence, and it’s easier to explain, but that’s my personal opinion. There isn’t a ton of nudity, but enough that you notice, and the sex montage at the start of the film is great, but you probably don’t want to explain some of the things that happen to anyone younger than fourteen, but I don’t find it awkward like many do. It’s a matter if they should be exposed to those types of sexual ideas before they have even dreamed about experiencing them. This again is the age of the internet and they can have access to things ten time more explicit with a key word search, but framing sex in the right context is what I at least try to do for my kids.

The context of the film is the real reason kids should wait to watch. A twelve year old isn’t going to understand much of the humor found within the film because they haven’t experienced enough of life to get the references. Wait a couple of years and yes they will get everything, but they are going to miss out if they see it earlier. The jokes in the movie can still be seen as juvenile, but for older juveniles, and still perfect for my sense of humor. To fully appreciate this movie you need to be older, because most of the jokes and references will fly over younger kids head. I’ll let my kids watch somewhere in the age range of 13-15 years old, and hopefully I don’t have to explain too many of the 90’s references.

When you let your kids watch the violent action comedy superhero film? Did you take them to the theater and watch? Is it okay to expose them to the movie if they aren’t going to get the references mentioned? Comment and let me know. Like, share, subscribe, and all that fun stuff. Thanks for watching.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Game of Thrones S6E5 The Door Recap/Review (Spoilers!): Hodor

Game of Thrones The Door had a powerful ending. The risk they took by introducing a time traveling element which can affect the overall story is a big leap for Game of Thrones to take. When introducing how changing an event alters timelines it throws paradoxical scenarios into the story. How can this event happen if the person doesn’t do this one thing in the future? Does this mean the future is set in stone for the Game of Thrones world? What if Bran wants to try and alter events which have already happened? The show stepped through a large door when they had Bran affect the past for a future event. It was a bold choice, and it will be interesting to see how it affects the show moving forward.

The rest of the episode while not as powerful or as alerting as the ending was extremely well done. Sophie Turner has been fantastic this season, and continues to impress. It may be her character just requires this commanding of a performance now, but she has played it masterfully. Sansa’s interaction with Littlefinger to start the show was brilliant. She let Littlefinger know she is no longer a pawn he can move in his game. Sansa has now become a player on the board, and a powerful one. She will still need the Knights of the Vale to overtake Ramsey in the end, and Baelish will be able to provide them for her. She can never fully trust him again, but he will still find a way to manipulate himself back into her good graces. He is slimy, but I don’t think he truly realized how monstrous Ramsey can be. He still probably would have married her off, but he might have found some way to protect her.

Arya has had no one to protect her since the end of the first season. She has had help from numerous sources, but has also had to learn, grow, and adapt in order to survive. We see her still struggling to beat the girl trainer, yet she is given another assassin assignment. She questions why she must kill the woman targeted, stating she seems to be a good person. The Many Faced God does not care for good or evil people. A price was paid, and a woman must die. Will Arya do the act? She must if she wants to survive, but I have a feeling she will find a way to turn the situation into the best possible outcome. She won’t fail in her task, but she will find a way to alter her task. Arya still is Arya Stark, based on the reaction she had to the play. She still cares about killing the ones who have hurt her. It was a great piece of storytelling for the show to use the play to demonstrate how she truly feels. She still wants revenge, but is biding her time until she can break away.

The Iron Islands storyline broke in the episode. The connection was made with how they will play into the overall story. They will become a Dothraki boat taxi service to Westeros. The book storyline is very different from the show, but it in the end it will garner the same result. The Ironborne will take the Dothraki hordes over the sea to invade Westeros with Danny at the head of the army with her three dragons. Yara will be the one to convince Daenerys to form an alliance, not Uncle Euron. Dany isn’t really fond of people who think they can bed and wed her to their cause. Daenerys may eventually marry for political reasons, but it won’t be to Euron. An alliance with Yara for the show makes perfect sense with how strong the female characters are and how they lead others. With Euron becoming King of the Iron Islands, Yara and Theon fled, sailing away to start a war with their Uncle. I don’t think they will go straight to find Daenerys. They will try and battle their Uncle, and then form and alliance with House Targaryen.

Danny had great scene tonight with Jorah. It was powerful and touching for her to command him to find a cure for the greyscale. She has finally accepted him again, and realizes how much he loves her. She realizes how much she needs and wants his friendship. Jorah cannot let his Queen down, and I fully expect him to find a cure and travel across the sea with Danny to retake Westeros. Daenerys may find things troubled in Meereen when she gets back. A tenuous peace has formed in the city, but Tyrion wisely knows that the peace must be accredited to Daenerys, or why have her as a leader?  Tyrion is playing a dangerous game on many fronts, and adding another element in the form of the Red Preistes may not be the smartest thing he has ever done. One thing I didn’t buy in the episode is the interaction between Varys and the Priestess. His character has obvious hatred to their kind, but Varys wouldn’t openly show it. He would find a way to keep them in check, and know everything about them, not openly confront her and disagree with Tyrion. It was out of character and was one of the very minor missteps in the episode.

There was only one other major mistake this episode made. The killing of yet another Direwolf in the climax of the episode. The animals play pivotal roles in the books, and have been relegated to minor ones in the show who can be killed off for no reasons. There was no reason to kill Summer in the episode along with Hodor. He could have ran out with them. His last stand wasn’t needed. He didn’t buy them any more time, the last Child of the Forrest did this with her sacrifice. The death of Summer should be a major event, and it was overshadowed by the ending. Overall it is a minor complaint for the episode as a whole.  

The revelation that the Children of the Forrest created the White Walkers to kill men and Hodor’s death, overshadowed any missteps. It makes sense for the Children of the Forrest to have created the White Walkers, but they lost control of their creation. They feel responsible and now want to help right the wrong, by assisting Bran become something special. Bran must assume the mantle the man in the tree has, because of his mistake. Bran killed them all with his defiance. He caused Hodor to become Hodor by entering his mind in the past instead of the present. It was an extremely sad and powerful moment watching the boy lose his mind, but also save Bran in the present. Everyone has rightly made fun of the phrase Hodor, but its new meaning has made it powerful. I’ll never think of the phrase Hold the Door, without now thinking of Hodor.

This was truly an amazing episode and a fantastic midpoint to the season. Without trying to think too much about the time travel logic introduced, it ended on an emotional and powerful note. The rest of the season is setup for a fantastic final five episodes. What did you think of tonight’s episode? Did Bran affecting events in the past bother you, or are you on bored with how the story is progressing? Comment and let me know.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Star Wars: Rogue One Official Visual Story Guide Leak: Why Must I Click on Star Wars Stories?

A fairly major leak for Star War Rogue One hit the internet. Pictures and information from the official visual story guide was released on JediBibliothek, but if you want to read the story in English hop over to Star Wars News Net. Be warned though, this an unofficial leak, because other news outlets have been asked to take down the information. I read the story, and nothing truly earth shattering about the movie is contained in the information. It does confirm information many have inferred, and gives some characters names and brief bio’s we did not have before.

If you haven’t read the story and don’t want to know the information then thanks for the click, but stop readingJ.

The two main spoilers to come out of the post are the confirmation of Darth Vader being in Rogue One, and Ben Mendelson’s character’s name and very brief bio. These aren’t shocking revelations, but it’s not how Lucasfilm wanted the information to be released. Darth Vader being in Rogue One was already a certainty, but it would have been far better for the confirmation to come in the form of a trailer, and not in a picture on a random blog. The biggest positive I can take away from this is that many people who are not plugged into the Star Wars world aren’t going to see this information. When 

Vader is revealed in the next trailer the vast majority of people will be awed and impressed. On the one hand this isn’t big news. Most people who follow Star Wars news know Vader is going to be in the movie, and the rest of the world won’t care until a trailer drops.

The Ben Mendelson’s reveal is still not much of a spoiler, but I’ll admit to being a tad disappointed his title isn’t Grand Admiral. I didn’t want him to be Grand Admiral Thrawn from the legend books, but I would have liked for him to be a Grand Admiral. He still looks great in the trailer, and I’m excited to see how menacing he is in the movie.  Mendelson is a great actor and he will do well with whatever title his character is given. It seems he will be the main villain of the movie, which the trailer already gave this impression. It will be interesting to see the relationship Vader with him. Will he be over Vader like Tarkin, or will they be on equal footing? If this information was released, that would be a major spoiler for the film.

The only other major reveal is the character Alan Tudyk is voicing. He will be voicing a droid who is an Imperial model, but teams up with the Rebels. I look forward to hearing Tudyk voice the droid and what he will bring to the role.  We still know very little about his character or any character in the movie.

Lucasfilm definitely didn’t want this information to leak out, but it’s not a major issue. The small character bios found on the blog don’t reveal any major plot points or any big character motivations. These are just tidbits that nerds like me gobble up because the post said Star Wars Spoiler. I expect Lucasfilm will start to crackdown on information like this leaking out. There seems to be more coming out of the studio recently, and some information is bound to leak with highly anticipated films, but I think it will probably dry up now.

Do you think this information is a major spoiler? What do you think about Lucasfilm asking website to take down the information? Comment and let me know. 

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Game of Thrones S6E4 Book of the Stranger Recap/Review (Spoilers!): Trial by Fire

Who didn’t tear up at the start of the episode?

Game of Thrones: Book of the Stranger started and ended with emotional events. The fourth episode of season six was filled the slow advancement of plots in all the stories. We are now almost half way through with the season and while events have happened, it feels like little has actually taken place.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The stories have been setup and they are going to advance in what seems a logical fashion, but with some unexpected twists. The episode overall felt like it was needed to advance all the stories, but we are still waiting to experience the major events of the season.

The start of tonight’s episode gave fans of both the books and show what they have wanted since the end of season one. The reuniting of two of the Stark children. I guess Jon isn’t technically a Stark, but he counts. It was a touching and powerful moment within the show and acted extremely well. Sophie Turner was impressive tonight with her portrayal of Sansa Stark. She has grown with the character on the show. Sansa gave Jon a much needed kick in the ass, and he knows he must face Ramsey Bolton and retake Winterfell. The letter sealed Ramsey’s fate, and it should make for an epic and satisfying conclusion when the bastards of the show face off. Yes I think Jon will be the end of Ramsey, but the showrunners still may throw a twist at us. Every scene at The Wall in the episode was well done, and also had a bit of much needed humor with how Tormund was eyeing Brienne. I couldn’t stop laughing, and I want to see them get together.

Littlefinger is back in the mix and bringing the Vale with him. He has played his hand and now thinks it is time to try and retake the North. I can only imagine he sees himself marrying Sansa, and then killing off the kid to unite the North and Vale. He then would have enough of an army to try and take the rest of the Seven Kingdoms. Littlefinger’s maneuvering has always been an intriguing part of the show, and it’s not really known what he is truly after. He is after power, but does he actually see himself as the King? I’ve never been able to see his end game, but it is fun to watch him position himself to take more power.

Tyrion on the other hand is a master politician and see’s the angles, but doesn’t care about seizing power. Tyrion is someone who seems just to do his duty in his own peculiar way. It is one reason why he is so popular, he doesn’t want to accumulate power or rule. He just doesn’t want to see the entire world burn. I’m not sure he knows what he is doing in Meereen, he knows the politics of Westeros, not here. Grey Worm could have provided a very ominous warning about how the Masters will use them, and not the other way around. Tyrion is smart, but I have a feeling the other two have valid concerns. It’s all going to be a moot point once Danny comes back with all of the Dothraki at her back. Though I’m hoping she doesn’t get bogged down in trying to retake the other cities and travels across the sea.

Once Danny comes across the sea what will she find in King’s Landing? A religious civil war is about to break out in the city and Cersei has orchestrated it. She allowed the High Sparrow to rise to power, and now she is going to cause a rift by trying to removing him. Allowing the Tyrell army into the city will backfire, but at least we will see some advancement in this story. I feel this is one part of the show which has bogged down. All the players have been in place all season, and we are just now starting to see some movement. I think the takeover will fail, and Margaery or Loras will die when the army invades the city. I liked the scenes with Margaery tonight, and showing she is the one who has not broken and giving Loras strength.  Hopefully this is one of the main focuses of the next episode and the story will advance quickly.

A couple of scenes tonight seemed out of place. Theon returning to the Iron Islands and talking with his sister could have been skipped. I’m not sure why he didn’t stay with Sansa, yes Jon would have tried kill him, but with Sansa there she could have stopped Jon. He has no purpose on the Iron Islands either. He can’t do anything to help his sister take power. I’m not sure what they plan to do with him, hopefully more than stand in the background. The other scene was Ramsey being evil again. We know he’s evil, and everyone hates him, no more proof of the point is needed. Why even bring the actress back who played Rickon’s protector just to kill her off?  I’m sure she was happy to be in a couple of more episodes, but it would have been nice for her to stick around longer. Her death served no purpose, or hasn’t to this point.
These scenes were quickly overshadowed by the ending. I have been critical of how they have handled Danny’s story so far this season. I didn’t like the departure the show took from the books. I have been waiting for her Dragon to show up and help her unite the Dothraki, but she didn’t need her Dragon. She only needed one person to help her lock the Khal’s inside so she could burn them alive. It was a fantastic scene and great to see Daenerys regain her authority. I’m still not sure it is believable for all of the Dothraki to bow to her just because she stood in the flames, but it was a powerful image. I would have just preferred it be with a Dragon at her back, but I like the twist of her not needing the Dragon to unite the Dothraki. Now she is the ultimate Khal and will go back to Meereen and then onto Westeros.

Overall the episode had a touching beginning and a powerful ending.  The middle was still mostly setup of what is to come, but I like how each story is advancing. There are so many moving parts it doesn’t seem like an hour is enough time to devout too each episode. Each storyline could get its own show, and I would be happy. I look forward to watching next week and I think we will get some major action by the end of the episode.

What did you think of tonight’s episode? Did you tear up at the start, and love the ending? Comment and let me know. 

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Assassin’s Creed Trailer Discussion/Review: Does It Feel too Much Like a Video Game?

Do video game movies have to look like the video games that precede them?
The Assassin’s Creed trailer dropped on the internet. The film is set to be released in theaters on December 21, 2016 and stars Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, and directed by Justin Kurzel. The movie is based on the popular annual video game series produced by Ubisoft. In the games characters are able to relive their ancestor’s history by a machine called the Animus. The games are part science and historical fiction and ripe for a movie adaptation.
If the next great wave of genre films are going to be video game adaptations, then this franchise is a great place to start. The struggle between the Templars and the Assassin’s developed in the games will make great stories to tell. This trailer shows the promise of what the film could be with the great actions shots shown. The big issue I had with the trailer though is the action felt like cut scenes from the video game. For fans of the games this is great and is going to get them excited to see the movie, but I’m not sure it’s going to move the needle for people who haven’t played the game.
The ending shot of the trailer is of a leap of faith which is prominently used during the games. It is a cool shot, but I’m not sure the movie needs it. Would fans of the game be disappointed if it isn’t in the film? Yes, but that is what I worry about with video games made into films. The people making the movies feel obligated to put things into the film that may not benefit or be believable within the story they are telling. Maybe this isn’t the case within Assassin’s Creed, but if Michael Fassbender’s character ends up landing in a hay cart I’m going to guess people who are not fans of the game are going to roll their eyes with the unbelievability of the act. I love the shot, and love performing this act in the game, but I worry it’s not needed for the film and it is going negatively affect the movie by being forced in.
 I want video game movies to do well, and I think they can. There are wonderful stories being told in the video games, and films can expand upon this experience by telling other stories in unique ways. No one has cracked the code on how to translate a video game into a great feature film. Assassin’s Creed could very well be the first one because of the great story the game has behind it. They can’t be slaved to the game’s visuals though, and this is what the trailer felt like to me. It felt like I was watching a great cut scenes from a game. The response the trailer has gotten has been extremely positive, except for the weird song choice, but I’m still nervous after what I saw.
I know I’m in the minority in not loving this trailer, and I didn’t hate it. It just worries me that the movie is going to be too focused on providing great visuals that were used on in the game and not focused on telling a great story, which has been the downfall of most video game movies.  Granted this is just a teaser trailer, and we are probably going to get more story in later trailers that can ease my fears.
Am I crazy for not loving this trailer? Are you worried about the film being too beholden to the visual style of the game? Comment and let me know. 

Monday, May 9, 2016

Star Wars Bloodline Book Review (No Spoilers): Political Intrigue

One of the biggest complaints from the Star Wars prequels is the political aspects the movies focus on. People think the Senate scenes are boring, and I agree for the most part. This doesn’t mean political films are bad. Lucas just wasn’t able to draw us in with the story he tried to tell. If they were to make a movie out of Claudia Gray’s Star Wars Bloodline it would be the political thriller the prequel films should have been. It has compelling characters, even ones we don’t know, and an enthralling twisting story.
The events of Bloodline take place six years before the events of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The First Order is still lurking in the shadows, and has not made its presence known. The New Republic Senate is ineffective and fractured into two parties, the Centrist and Populist. The Centrist believe in a strong central government and control.  The populist believe a strong central government is what lead to the Empire and should be avoided at all cost. Leia is a Populist and an influential one, but who is getting tired of the political struggle and ready to retire. She however finds one more reason to stick around after an emissary from Ryloth pleads to the Senate to look into organized crime activity happening in his area. This spurs Leia into action, but she is forced to accept the help of a popular Centrist Senator, Ransolm Casterfo, so the mission can proceed.
Claudia Gray did a fantastic job in Lost Stars of portraying the mindset of Imperials. She showed how normal people with certain mindsets could believe in the Empire and keep working for it. Ransolm Casterfo is another example of Gray introducing us to an extremely nuanced character. We at first view him from Leia’s eyes. As an Empire loving arrogant fool. By the end of the novel you want him to succeed just as much, if not more than, Leia. At the end he wasn’t really a fan of the Empire with Palpatine and Vader ruling, but more of the control and order it provided. Misguided in my opinion, but Gray paints in him in a way where his views are plausible and you can at least see his side of the argument. One thing is for certain, something has to change with the Senate or the New Republic could collapse. It is hard not to do draw some parallels between the situation Gray paints in the book and our current political climate. I won’t get bogged down here, but I think she made some good points about real life politics in a galaxy far far away.
Along with the functional political story in the book the main mystery plot is well done. I enjoyed trying to figure out how all the parts fit together and who was on what side. There are some big reveals that have impact on The Force Awakens. If you want a good entry point into the Star Wars books this would be a great place to start because it introduces many interesting facts that play into Episode 7. While reading I didn’t necessarily like the reaction to a big reveal in the book. I didn’t think characters in the universe would react the way they did when they found out a truth, but after thinking about it more I ended up liking the choice. I think the choice plays a big part for where Leia is during the Force Awakens. Without events in this book it would make sense for Leia to still be a Senator in the New Republic, and this helps explains why she is not.
The only other issue I had was how Han came swooping in at one point of the book. It was too convenient and I thought they could have used him in another way, or had him be introduced a little earlier to make it seem more plausible. It is a small gripe for a long novel. I do think some will take issue with the reaction to the big reveal in the novel.  I don’t think this book may be for everyone. If you are looking for an action packed adventure, this isn’t it. It is more of a slow burn, but the action in it was perfect for Star Wars. I enjoyed this book and can see myself listening to it again on audiobook, which is something I reserve for only some of my favorite books.
Claudia Gray has written two great novels for the Star Wars universe and I hope we get more books from her. If they decide to write a book about the fall of Ben Solo, she is the author I want to write it. She writes characters so well, if someone could show Ben’s decent into darkness I think it would be her. She can show his perspective, and while I know many don’t think he can be redeemed, I think Claudia could add good depth to him as a character.
Have you read Bloodlines yet, if so what did you think? Did you like the how the story progressed or did you think characters in the universe would have reacted to certain news differently? If you haven’t read it yet will you give it a try? Comment and let me know. 

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Game of Thrones S6E3 Oathbreaker Recap/Review (Spoilers!): My Watch has Ended!

Was it too slow?
The third episode of Game of Thrones sixth season, Oathbreaker, was a little slow, but it was still filled with great scenes. We still haven’t gotten into actual plot advancement for the season, and that needs to change by the next episode for the season to feel like it is moving. At this point the stage is fully set for the rest of the season. All of the major players are in place for the adventures they will have until the conclusion.
Jon Snow awakening was the logical place to start the episode. It was an impactful scene, and handled extremely well. I thought Kit Harrington did a great job of conveying the confusion Jon Snow had awakening from the dead. He knew he shouldn’t be back, and was at a loss for how he was. Melisandre wanted to know what it was like on the other side, but Jon disappointed her by saying there was nothing. Now does that mean there was truly nothing, or that he just couldn’t remember? Death it seems will still remain a mystery even for the people of Westeros. Jon’s thinking there is nothing after death might have an impact on him now. He knows he must live a full life, because darkness waits for him on the other side. This is why he walked out on the Night’s Watch at the end of the episode. He doesn’t want to be tied down there, and his watch did end the first time he died. I think he probably will come back, but first he will lead the Wildlings to retake Winterfell and instill Rickon as the new King of the North.
Jon’s scene bookended the episode well, but the next best scene for me was with Arya. Her small training montage and regaining her eyesight showed great determination. She is becoming a true assassin. What is interesting is that we don’t know her motivation. Is she just saying she is no one so they will continue to train her, or does she now truly believe it? In the books we have the advantage of knowing her true thoughts, but I’m not sure if the character in the show feels the same way. She may be completely embracing the Many-Faced God. I still think deep down she wants to avenge the people on her list and has just learned to bide her time. She is learning from the masters until she can leave on her own. She has always been a wildcard for me. I don’t know how she will play into the story overall in the end, but her transformation and growth is compelling to watch.
More setup was seen in Meereen. It was great to see Varys at work. He threatened the informant so subtlety and with sweetness instead of terror, and still made it creepy.  He is the supreme good cop, and you can tell why he gets what he wants. Now they know the other slaver cities are fronting the Sons of the Harpy. My thought is that the other cities will start to march on Meereen like they did in the books and lay siege to the city. Danny will conquer all of the Dothraki hordes when her Dragon or Dragons show up to rescue her. Then she will go back to Meereen lay waste to it, and march on to Westeros for next season.
When she gets to Kings Landing what will she find? Tommen is getting pulled in three different directions. One by his mother, one by his small council, and now by the High Sparrow. The High Sparrow is obviously a master manipulator. He might believe some of what he says, but for the most part he is playing the same game as everyone else, gaining power. Cersei is still on the warpath and will not rest until everyone who has wronged her is killed. This is the one story were I think we should see some movement. Everyone is in place for action to happen, it is just a matter of the plot advancing.
The only scene in the episode that seemed out of place was with Sam and Gilly. It wasn’t needed and didn’t really add anything to the episode, other than show us they are on their way to Oldtown and Sam wants Gilly to go stay with his parents. One could probably argue the scene showing a young Ned Stark fight didn’t add much either, other than fuel the flame of the fan theory that Jon Snow isn’t Ned’s son, but his nephew. It certainly sounded like a woman in labor outside of the castle. Now who is to say that this is was Jon, but it implies it. I liked the scene, and it was the only action we saw tonight.
Overall the episode was still well acted and well done. There does need to be some more plot advancement next episode or the show is going to feel like it is slowing to a halt and nothing is happening. Pieces are still being settled into place, but they are all their now. This probably would be considered a filler episode, but it was well done filler. This show is more like a ten hour long movie, we just have to wait seven days to get the next hour piece of the film.

What did you think about tonight’s episode? Was it too slow? Are you ready for the stories to start advancing at a faster pace? Was it still done well enough to keep you entertained? Comment and let me know. 

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Captain America: Civil War - Movie Review: Captain America: Civil War Mo...

Do all superheroes have mommy issues?
Captain America Civil War starring Chris Evans, Robert Downy Jr., and directed by the Russo brothers. The latest installment in the Marvel Cinematic universe tells the story of how the governments of the world want to put handcuffs on the Avengers. The collateral damage of the world’s greatest heroes has started to pile up, and world leaders want to tell the Avengers when they should and shouldn’t act. This idea doesn’t sit well with Captain America who doesn’t want his team beholden to anyone. He doesn’t want a group of bureaucrats sending him somewhere for their benefit and not to a place they are truly needed. Tony Stark feels the Avengers need to be put in check or they are no better than the villains they fight.
Flashback to the first two Iron Man films. Look at how Tony Stark as a character has changed from those films. If that Tony Stark would have been presented with the Sokovia accords he would have laughed at them. He wouldn’t want any type of government to have any control over him or his suits. In fact he worked extremely hard in the first two films to ensure his technology did not end up in the government hands. While I still think he would fight to turn his tech over to the government, he is still willing to be put in check now because of all the damage he has caused. He doesn’t trust himself after creating Ultron and other events leading up to this movie. What is great about Civil War is if you didn’t know how much Tony has changed his point view is still valid. Those who have watched the previous films can appreciate the characters growth, but they aren’t necessary for enjoying this film.
If one movie would be crucial to understanding the motivations of the characters in this film it would be Winter Soldier. That film gives the backstory on the relationship between Steve and Bucky and how far Steve will go to save his friend. Civil War, even with the numerous characters shown on screen, is very much a Captain America film. The movie does a great job of examining both sides of the argument. Whatever side you fall on, you can understand why both sides feel the way they do. It isn’t clear for the audience which side you should be pulling for, that was one of the points of the movie and they pull it off brilliantly. The story fits together so well. You are taken along for a fun enjoyable ride, but with heavy stakes for both sides. The story is great, and then you throw in the amazing action.
There are a few actions sequences in this movie that are simply stunning. Yes everyone is rightly talking about the funny and exciting airport scene, in which Spiderman stole the show, but there are other action sequences which are also enjoyable. The opening action sequence was equal or better than the opening action sequence in Winter Solider.  The chase scene through the streets was intense and was a great introduction to Blank Panther. The end fight between Winter Solider, Iron Man and Captain America was a great climax, but I still had a slight issue with Tony’s motivation for fighting in the end.
This was my biggest complaint for the movie. I didn’t necessarily believe Tony would continue the fight within the framework of the movie. Yes I think he would have been mad and upset, but I’m not sure he would have reacted the way he did based on what we know of the character. The fight was still amazing and a great payoff for the film. It was also orchestrated by the villain, and while I get his motivation in the film, this was the weakest part of the story. At the end of the movie Tony is in a place of acceptance about events leading up to this point, and then he reverses course. Like I said, it is a great fight, I just wish they would have found another reason for the fight.
This is the only negative I can come up with for the movie, other than the font used to display each locations of the film. It was a little too blaring and in your face, but that’s small nitpick.  Up until the end that was the only negative I could see with the film. It is so well paced, so well-acted, with great action and investment in the story that you can’t wait to see where it is going. I want to see the film again in the theatre just to take it all in one more time. This is an event film and should be seen in theatres. It is worth seeing multiple times if you have been invested in these characters since the Marvel Cinematic universe took off.
If you’re watching this you probably have already seen Captain America Civil War, but if not, are you planning on going to see it in theatres or are you tired of superhero films? If you have seen it did you like the Tony’s reason for fighting at the end? Comment and let me know.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Game of Thrones S6E2 Home Review/Recap (Spoilers!): Worst Kept Secret

For a slower moving episode Home still might be one of my favorites. We are still being setup for the season overall. Only getting more than a few minutes with each major storyline could get frustrating, but what they are giving us is moving the plot along. Each scene tonight, for the most part, was excellent and filled with story elements which gives the viewer enough information to move things along. Do I want more time with Tyrion and the Dragons? More time with Bran? More time with Arya and her training? More time in Kings Landing? Yes! Every scene was a small taste, and I want more of what is to come.
Opening with Bran was a great way to start the episode. To actually see Lyanna and her interact with her brothers was a great way to bring us into what Bran has been doing. He has been traveling through time with the trees. He wanted to get lost in this moment, spend time with his family, and feel like he belongs again. This is a great way for us to know more backstory on the Starks and what happened before the events of the show. We may get to see Lyanna run away with Rhaegar, and find out if the popular fan theory about Lyanna being Jon’s mother is actually true. This scene could just be seen as fan service, but I think it is going to set events up for Bran’s story. Bran is going to have a major role to play in the war against the white walkers, and his reintroduction tonight was well done.
Then to flash to the wall and have a minor fight with the Wildings and Night’s Watch was great way to pick up the pace of the episode. The giant smashing the guy who shot him was fantastic. The restraint the Wildings showed was impressive. They didn’t attack and kill everyone, they held back and only did what was needed to be done to take control of the situation. I think killing Thorne would have served the Knights Watch better overall, but I’m sure there is still a story to tell with him in the coming episodes. Thorne’s execution will be handled by the true Lord Commander in due time. What will be interesting to see is the fate of the young boy. I’m going to guess if Jon has changed any from his time spent in the afterlife this will be one of the first signs of a change.
The only two parts of tonight’s episode that might have been lackluster were the scenes in King’s Landing and with the Ironborne. I personally really liked both scenes. The scene between Jamie and the High Sparrow was tense and is setting up a fantastic confrontation between the two groups. Tommen asking his Mother for help is like asking a jackal into the hen house. He wants her to make him strong, and all she is going to do is start a war that could destroy King’s Landing. I don’t like the High Sparrow, but Cersei isn’t much better. Tommen has never been a bad character, you don’t want the kid to be caught up in this mess, but I think the prophecy about Cersei’s children will come true in the end.
The other Lannister brother had a fantastic short scene with the two dragons. I loved getting the backstory of the dragons with him. Telling us Dragons are extremely smart and can sense who is their friend or foe. He still was either extremely brave or extremely stupid for going in and unchaining them. The question this raises for me is, why did the dragons kill the shepherd girl? Was it an accident, or did the dragon even really kill her? I think this question might be answered, and I’m now hoping all three dragons show up to save Danny and unite the Dothraki.
The other small scene we got tonight was with Arya and her being brought back into the temple of the many faced god. It’s a good to see her accept her fate, and her story and character are so well done, I just want more of it. I hope I want more of the story on the Iron Islands.
The Iron Islands storyline was one of my favorite from the fourth book. It is extremely well written and adds yet another layer to the rich world Martin created. I just hope it doesn’t become another Dorne from last season, with very little value to the main story. Dorne still hasn’t been woven in with any main plot, and I worry the Iron Islands won’t either. They are the Viking warriors or Westeros, and their story should be told. I enjoyed the scenes with them tonight, but I’m still worried they may feel lost in the main stories we have seen so far to date. We have gotten small pieces before, but they have always been minor.  The story they are starting to tell is a major plot in the books. It will be interesting to see where they take it and how it is received. There is so much going on at the moment I think the audience may wonder why more characters are being introduced and more story elements added when the show is starting to wind down.
The main reveal of the night was saved for the end. I didn’t know if they were going to drag out Jon’s fate much past tonight. They couldn’t have dragged it out much longer or his body would start to decompose regardless of how cold it is at The Wall. Plus they would want to bury or burn him. Melisandre bringing Jon back was a forgone conclusion to me. I have thought since I read the fifth book and watched season five that he would not stay dead. Now Martin may not bring him back in the same way, but he will still come back. There is no one else at The Wall which can carry the story forward, and there are too many unanswered questions about Jon Snow.  It will be interesting to see how much of Jon comes back and how much he has changed. I wonder how much more story we are going to get at The Wall this season. I am guessing the main fight will be with the Bolton’s’ and Jon will make Ramsey pay for hurting Sansa.
Ramsay’s part was cruel and vicious. He is a character you love to hate. When he finally is killed off a cheer will go out around television sets around the world, it might even be audible outside of houses. He is worse than Joffrey, and that is saying something. His pride will be his downfall, and I am excited to see what happens when he tries to attach Castle Black and finds it well provisioned and staffed with Wildlings from beyond The Wall. Sansa will unite the North and retake Winterfell with the help of Jon, which will then setup the ultimate confrontation with the White Walkers.
The puzzle pieces are all starting to fit together. This was another episode of lining pieces up, but it was so well executed plot movement wasn’t necessary. This was the perfect mix of setup and advancement which will keep me excited for next week. Bring on the next episode. I am really starting to wish the entire season was available to binge and watch at once.

I’ve rambled enough about this fantastic episode. Let me know your thoughts if you made it to the end of my ramblings. 

Keanu - Movie Review: Who Doesn't Like Kittens??

I watched two movies this week. High Rise and Keanu. Each film used animals in completely different ways. Animal lovers should probably steer clear of High Rise
Keanu staring Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, and directed by Peter Atencio. The comedy movie tells the story of a poor kitten who is the cat of a drug dealer. He runs away after a hit on his owner right into the arms of Rell. Who then promptly renames the kitten Keanu. Keanu then is stolen and Rell and his cousin Clarence must get the kitten back from a group of gang members. A totally weird and illogical story? Yep, but it looked like a good time at the movies.
It is a funny movie. I laughed out loud numerous times. I never was rolling for an extended period of time, but overall it did its job. I never watched Key and Peele’s sketch show on comedy central, which everyone who watched said was good. Not enough people watched to keep the show alive, but it’s good they got an opportunity to make a movie, because for a first it is well done. Even with the completely illogical plot for two suburban nerd types to try and get a cat back from a bunch of gang members the story works. You care about both characters, and want them to get the cat back. Kee and Peele have great chemistry and you expect that since they have worked together for so long. Their chemistry translated extremely well into a feature film, and the movie didn’t seem like a bunch of sketches. It had a story to tell and get across. Ridiculous as that may sound.
Aside from the story the jokes for the most part hit. Some fall flat, and they went back to the well one to many times with the George Michael references. The movie was a bit too long, and I didn’t like were they took the ending. The movie is fantastical and off the rails, but they grounded the finale in reality too much for my taste. That aside the film is well done and I was impressed with how they incorporated some cameos and play on the action genre overall. That could have been why they grounded the ending, as a nod to say if action movies were to happen in real life, consequences would happen to the people who participate in them. Still not sure it worked for the film though.
This is also director Peter Atencio first feature film and even though he might not get much credit because Key and Peele are the stars of the show. I though the movie was shot and paced really well. I think they could have shaved ten minutes off, but that’s it. He setup up a joke with Key’s character using two camera angels brilliantly. Without how the scene was shot, the joke wouldn’t have been funny. Keanu is just a solid movie. It isn’t going to win any rewards, and some may forget it, but it’s worth seeing, if not in theaters than definitely on rental when it’s available.
What do you think? Can a story about an abducted kitten entertain audiences? Did you go see Keanu this weekend, or are you going to wait for rental? If you liked Key and Peele sketch show give me some good sketches I should check out.