Captain’s Log: May 2017

Game of Thrones Trailer!

So, the first Game of Thrones season 7 trailer was released this month, and it looks phenomenal. It’s really neat to see that the show is starting to build towards its end with climaxes and resolutions we’ve been promised for six seasons now.

This might be considered lazy writing, but I find my thoughts for this trailer easier to put together in a bullet-point format.

  • It’ll be neat to see Cersei in power in title and in deed; in Seasons 1 and 2, we saw a little bit of her power as she influenced the events in King’s Landing, but now we’re seeing her when she has no one to answer to, and that excites me.
  • The Unsullied get a lot of screentime here and it looks amazing. After the 5th season, people criticized the Unsullied for falling into a kind of Stormtrooper-syndrome in which they would be cut down easily without really putting up a fight or doing any damage just as a means of raising tension. Here they seem like they’ll be kicking Lannister ass at least once.
  • Littlefinger’s scheming. I guarantee at least one point during this season, I’ll be screaming at my TV about how much I hate him for ruining something (probably the Jon/Sansa partnership).
  • Did I just see a Dothraki stand up and then jump off his horse? Amazing.
  • That last shot of the Dragon flying over the Dothraki is quite a money-shot. Nothing gets me quite excited for this season like that shot. It really shows just how far this show has come and just what’s in store for this show… Huge battles. Lots and lots of huge battles.
  • Noticeably absent: The Hound/The Brotherhood without Banners, the Night King, the Night’s Watch.

Really looking forward to this season! First episode debuts on July 16th.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

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One thing I’m consistently willing to forgive movies I enjoy for – such as It’s a Wonderful Life or Django Unchained – it’s awkward pacing from being too ambitious. This is the only palpable flaw I found in the recent sequel to Guardians of the Galaxy. There were too many subplots and pairings to balance – Star Lord and Ego, Star Lord and Gamora, Gamora and Nebula, Yondu and Star Lord, Yondu and Rocket, Drax and Mantis, Yondu and Kraglin – these characters begin to reach a certain point where the film can lose balance.

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But you know what? That’s fine. Because all of these characters perfectly bring out great emotions of one another. Out of interest, I wanted to see what negative criticisms of this film could be found on Rotten Tomatoes. One critic from the New Yorker called it “the most expensive group therapy session in the universe” (though the New Yorker does have a great deal of satire). I think that this is hardly a fitting criticism – one of the first film’s strongest moments – “Take my hand” – was a scene of similar emotional impact. The film presents a moral-of-the-story that isn’t exactly new but heartwarming nonetheless: family isn’t just who you’re related to.

Honestly, I was sold on this movie as soon as Groot did his little dance in the opening scene. #GrootScootin

Now this part will involve spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the movie yet, please scroll down to the section about Wonder Woman. 

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Let’s talk about Ego. I think I had been disappointed when I found out that “Ego the Living Planet” wouldn’t be a giant talking planet, as he is often depicted, but instead would be, I don’t know, Kurt Russell in armor? It was a campy idea, and I thought if it had any place in the Marvel Universe, it would be in Guardians. That being said, I was rather pleased with it. Ego’s planet was a vibrant fascinating world full of visual splendor – with a dark secret. Ego was easily, far and away, the best Marvel Cinematic villain since Loki. Kurt Russell performed well, Ego’s motivations were compelling, and – better yet – his abilities weren’t just the direct opposite of the hero, as we’ve seen in Iron Man, Iron Man 2, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America: The First Avenger, Ant-Man, or Doctor Strange. Ego feels like a unique and fresh villain in this regard, certainly the most memorable (again, aside from Loki).

2016 Mar 1

Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman opens in theaters at the end of this week. The critical reception is trending well so far, proving that the DC/Warner Bros. partnership can still yield a good film. At the time of writing this, Rotten Tomatoes has aggregated 95 reviews, 90 of which were positive. Most seem to admit that this movie isn’t exactly perfect, but is still fun to watch.

Honestly, I really hope that this movie does extremely well. There’s an assumption in Hollywood that movies or shows with female leads or minority leads are bound to be less successful. I always go back to the cancellation of Young Justice (it still stings) which was allegedly cancelled because the network executives didn’t like that girls were a significant portion of the audience because girls supposedly won’t buy action figures. In this regard, Wonder Woman is particularly significant. If Wonder Woman does not do well financially, the studios will be less likely to fund a superhero movie with a female lead. This shouldn’t be the case. For this reason – and because it simply seems to be a better movie – I hope Wonder Woman makes twice what Batman v. Superman and Suicide Squad made.

On Television: Fargo and American Gods

Hoo boy, I have been mesmerized by two great shows on television right now. I could probably talk about how much I adore Twin Peaks coming back, or how great the new House of Cards season is, or Master of None or something, but since I don’t watch any of those shows, I guess I’ll talk about Fargo and American Gods.

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American Gods is neat. I enjoy it. But I worry about it. Having read the book, I know exactly what it’s all about, and I know what’s going on in most every scene. I think every performance is neat, and I think it’s a wonderful adaptation. But I worry for this show on its own. I worry that this is the kind of adaptation only book-readers can enjoy. And I think perhaps once this season is over, I might make a post about how the novel was translated to screen, but I want to use this opportunity to gauge what everyone else thinks. Have you been watching American Gods? Are you enjoying it? Did you read the book?

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Fargo, as always, has been superb. It’s something I find myself tweeting about often, making predictions or commenting on what I like about it, so I won’t say too much in terms of plot here. One thing I want to emphasize is this season’s interest in storytelling – the intro which reads “This is a true story” has the word “true” fade away, leaving “this is a story” and then leaves only “story.” Then there are various moments of stories being told on the show. VM Varga’s parables on coincidence, the passages from Ennis’ sci fi novels, and the “Peter and the Wolf” Symphony segment all point to some kind of fixation on stories. The other series arc I’ve been interested in is Gloria versus technology. There have been constant references to how her police station doesn’t have computers, or how she’s behind the times, or moments where she can’t open an automatic door. Fargo has cultivated this motif so aggressively, bringing it to our attention nearly every episode, so I’m very excited to see what the ultimate payoff is. It seems to be building to something, but I can’t imagine what.

Anyhow, that’s about as much as I can say without stepping into spoiler territory.

Video Game Adaptations?

My final topic for this post, I really don’t have too much to say about. Around this time last year I wrote a post about video games being adapted into films, the consensus being that most of them were not at all good. It was recently announced that The Witcher, a highly successful high-fantasy game would be adapted into a series on Netflix. Not more than a week later, a teaser was released for a Netflix-adaptation of Castlevania. And perhaps I’m being hopeful, but it looks awesome.

I think that going for an anime-style rather than live-action will please the fanbase, but also, I think that spreading out a story over a season of television will do it more justice than a two-hour movie would. This gives the viewers a longer amount of time to attach to the characters, and allows the show to dive into all the subtle things that might be in the game’s mythology.

I look forward to seeing how these series turn out. Do you think adapting them into television shows will result in a better project than a movie would?

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