Captain’s Log: May 2016

Happy Memorial Day, everyone!

Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones Season 6, after a slow first episode, has really picked up the pace as the series barrels towards its final seasons. Here, I will be discussing all the events up till the 6th episode of the season, so if you’re not caught up, scroll down to the next section where I talk about Captain America: Civil War.

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There’s been a lot of awesome girl-power moments. Last month I mentioned how I was beginning to admire Cersei, and was looking forward to her conflicts with Dorne and the High Sparrow. I think that the biggest step for Cersei’s character is that she was willing to actually cooperate with the Tyrells. (Even though that doesn’t appear to be going too well.) Then, in a fun little subplot, Yara could be the new Queen of the Iron Islands.

Upon first writing this post, I planned on lamenting how slow Arya’s storyline has been moving, but finally we saw something wonderful. She finally chose to be herself, rather than just a faceless assassin. It’s ironic that when she speaks with the actress who plays Cersei in the local theater production before she realizes that she still cares about who she is, and isn’t ready to give herself up yet.

Then there’s Dany successfully making her way out of Vaes Dothrak, and inspiring the Dothraki to follow her. This is basically her story in a microcosm – she refuses to allow men to define by who she used to be married to while they try to rule the world. Daenerys is inspiring followers and taking out all her enemies. It’s wonderful to see. And then there was her riding down on her dragon to inspire all her new Dothraki followers at the end of “Blood of My Blood.” The way she screams to them, and claims that they will all be her bloodriders shows just how great of a leader Dany can be, and it certainly got me very excited for her to conquer Westeros.

2016 May 3

And Sansa’s storyline has been an absolute delight to watch. The way she bonds with Brienne, and stands up to Littlefinger, and so clearly wants to retake Winterfell has made her one of my favorite characters this season. Not to mention, I was so ecstatic to finally see her reunited with Jon, after so many Stark family almost-reunions: 1) Arya nearly sees her mother and brother one last time before the Red Wedding. 2) Bran sees Jon fighting with the wildlings. 3) Bran sees Jon again at Craster’s Keep. 4) Arya and Sansa are both in the Vale near the end of Season 4. And now, at long last, we’ve finally had a Stark reunion. And it felt wonderful.

That brings me to the North, which currently plays host to Team Winterfell, all the people trying to take back the North for the Starks. Sansa, Jon, Brienne, Podrcik, Tormund, Davos, Melisandre. (I would definitely have more to say about Jon, but I talked about him at length with my post on the Christ Allegory for Jon.) All these characters coming together and rallying behind this cause… it’s truly a pleasure to see. It makes it feel like the series is eventually building up to one great final showdown.

2016 May 5Last but not least, we need to talk about Bran and the Three-eyed Raven. Bran’s been looking into the past, which has been neat. The Tower of Joy Scene, which is believed to relate directly to the birth of Jon Snow, was one of the best fight scenes on the show. (In case you haven’t seen it, here’s the same fight, but with lightsabers.) Bran’s storyline has brought in an interesting twist to Thrones: time travel. As seen in the Tower of Joy scene, and in “Hold the Door,” Bran’s excursions in the past are supposed to be solely for observation, but he manages to interact with the past, even leading to the origins of Hodor. There’s a popular theory circulating right now which suggests that Bran will attempt to speak to the Mad King, leading to the Mad King become, well, mad. And hey that’s neat, but after Episode 5, “The Door,” it feels like none of that matters.

Hodor has always been one of the most endearing characters on the show. He doesn’t seem to have a bad bone in his body. Because he only said the one word, “Hodor,” and was only there to help out Bran, he felt like a kind friend, someone truly incorruptible. And now, to reveal that his entire life has been building up to this one great sacrifice, transports him from just being a lovable character to being a bonafide hero. Damn, Hodor. Here’s to you, pal.

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And that’s all I have to say about the season thus far. I expect I’ll do a separate just for Season 6 after the finale, instead of just attaching it to the Captain’s Log. Speaking of Captains…

Captain America: Civil War!

Captain America: Civil War was a masterwork of superhero cinema. Not only is there a deeply personal conflict holding it together, but there are amazing action sequences and a wide array of characters who are well-fleshed out and, frankly, badass.

Cap Distinguish 1

Before seeing Civil War, if you had asked me what the best fight in a superhero movie was, I likely wouldn’t have had a definitive answer. Thor versus Cap and Iron Man at the beginning of The Avengers? Bane’s monologue as he breaks the Bat’s back in The Dark Knight Rises? The emotional Spiderman versus Doc Ock from Spiderman 2? Well, now there is a clearly definitive answer. The airport fight scene was everything that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been leading up to, and everything that viewers hoped Age of Ultron could be. All the characters had their reasons for being invested in the plot and picking a side, and it all felt pretty organic. The movie does an excellent job of balancing subplots, and nothing really ends up feeling unimportant or unused (other than perhaps Martin Freeman), which can happen in a movie of this scale. And there were so many “Holy shit!” moments, with more belonging to Ant-man than one might expect.

And that’s not to take away from the final fight between Iron Man and Cap, which serves as an amazing emotional climax. Towards the end, the conflict shifts from being global to being personal. And it makes that fight just so much more tense and meaningful.

Something I should have mentioned in previous Captain’s Logs is just how wonderful the marketing for this movie was; viewers were called, both before and after the film, to take a side. And there’s a whole ethical debate to it: should the government be allowed to regulate these people? How much would you do for a friend who the world thought was guilty? The movie doesn’t play favorites, clearly showing that both are right and both are wrong in some ways, making it easier for their to be disagreement, and therefore, discussion. Couple this debate with a hashtag, and the movie will pretty much market itself.

The last thing I want to mention about Civil War? Black Panther and Spiderman. Both characters made their MCU debut, and both blew audiences away. I mentioned Spiderman 2  before, which is fitting, because Civil War is most definitely the best Spiderman movie we’ve had in twelve years. And Black Panther was a welcome addition to the series, and it pains me that we have to wait until 2018 to see more of him.

X-Men: Apocalypse

Heh, it looks like the April Fool’s Day prediction I ironically made about this movie being bad might have actually come true, to a certain extent.

2016 May 2

The reception has been mixed – Rotten Tomatoes lists it at 48% favorable at the moment – the critical consensus reading: “Overloaded action and a cliched villain take the focus away from otherwise strong performers and resonant themes, making X-Men: Apocalypse a middling chapter of the venerable superhero franchise.” In their review, the blog We Minored in Film said that the old team – Michael Fassbender’s Magneto, James McAvoy’s Xavier, and Jennifer Lawrence’s  Mystique – deserved a better send off. And the new cast members – Sophie Turner’s Jean Grey,  Tye Sheridan’s Cyclops, and Kodi Smit McPhee’s Nightcrawler – deserved a better introduction. All these actors give enjoyable performances, but it feels muddled and, as RT said, “overloaded.” And then, there was Star Wars standout Oscar Isaac is universally described as being under-utilized talent, playing a somewhat generic version of the villain Apocalypse.

Tower of Terror? Guardians of the Tower? Guardians of Terror? Tower of Galaxy?

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In April, I wrote several posts about a trip to Walt Disney World. Since that posting, there have been some rumors regarding Hollywood Studios’ most iconic ride. The talk around the watercooler seems to be that the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror will be converted into a Guardians of the Galaxy-themed ride.

I love Guardians. It’s a better Star Wars movie than any of the Star Wars prequels were. It’s one of the best Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, and one of the most enjoyable and most quotable films of the past few years.

2016 May 1

That being said, I am wholeheartedly opposed to this idea.

Tower of Terror perfectly encapsulates what it’s like to watch The Twilight Zone. Hearing Rod Serling’s voice just before plummeting into darkness is a perfect way of inflicting the same psychological fear that the Twilight Zone brings to every episode, while combining with the physical fear of the ride.

I’m sure they could do something great with Guardians of the Galaxy, and I hope they do – somewhere else. In addition to Tower of Terror being as iconic as It’s a Small World or Spaceship Earth, it seems better fit for The Twilight Zone than it would for Guardians. This

(I’m glad I had an additional chance to mention my trip to WDW because it gives me a chance to give a shoutout to Hammad Rais – Hammad shared my WDW posts with his followers, and I wanted to give him a mutual shout-out. Hammad runs a variety blog, sharing a wide array of interesting content, often related to travel.)

The Magnificent Seven

I’m including this because I forgot to mention it in April. It looks awesome. It feels as though in this decade we’ve definitely seen some excellent westerns this decade, with Django Unchained, The Hateful Eight, and Slow West, as well as the parody Rango, and not to mention, the 2010 True Grit remake. In many ways, this trailer makes it seem like the Magnificent Seven remake is going in a similar direction as the True Grit remake did; in short, it looks as though it is going to be… well, grittier. Not necessarily even darker in tone, just grittier. I suppose that’s just the way the genre has moved over time. But I digress, this movie looks amazing.

 

And hey, I’m going to try something new; in the comments, feel free to answer any or all of the following questions:

  • What’s been your favorite moment from Game of Thrones this season?
  • Are you Team Cap or Team Iron Man?
  • Did you see X-Men Apocalypse? Did you like it?
  • Do you think recreating Tower of Terror with Guardians of the Galaxy would be a good choice?
  • Do you think the Magnificent Seven remake will be better than the original?

 

Posts for May:

What Captain America: Civil War Must do to Distinguish itself

The Gospel of Jon Snow: Christian Allegory in Game of Thrones

Ferris Bueller should not be the main character in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

The Man, the Myth, the Dinkles: The Integrity of Peter Dinklage

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