April 30, 2012 § Leave a comment
Renly, we hardly knew ye!
But, hey, Catelyn finally gets a decent plot to carry her through the rest of the season as she teams up with fellow fugitive Brienne after they’re saddled with the accusation of assassinating one of the thirty or forty guys vying for the Iron Throne of Westeros.
It was a solid episode, a much appreciated return to form after last week, which I considered one of the weakest of the two seasons so far.
Every scene felt critical to the plot and carried the story forward in some fashion, from the shadow thing killing Renly to Arya’s new friend taking on her kick-the-bucket list.
I especially enjoyed the evolution of the story in Qarth, which really picked up the pace for Dany’s narrative and gave us glimpses of not just one, but two baby dragons!
And out beyond the Wall, more adventures for the Night’s Watch and Jon Snow as they prepare a sneak attack against the Wildlings.
Other great moments:
* Tywin Lannister’s dismissal of a worthless cousin. He might not like Tyrion much, but it’s not hard to see where the Imp got his sarcastic sense of humor.
* Stannis and Davos standing off against each other over Melisandre.
* Margaery’s proclamation to Littlefinger that she doesn’t want to be a queen – she wants to be the queen.
* Every scene with Tyrion, as usual, especially when he urged Lancel to beg Bronn to kill him if something bad happened to his boss.
April 30, 2012 § Leave a comment
Okay, this is the funniest scary movie I think I’ve ever watched.
From the mind of Joss Whedon, The Cabin in the Woods tells the story of five college kids who pack up in a Winnebago (why not a car? I mean, they’re going to a *cabin* not a *campground*, but whatever) for a weekend getaway in the wilderness, only to find themselves stuck inside the equivalent of a horrifying rat maze that has no cheese, only death, waiting at the end.
Well. Maybe a little cheese. This IS Joss Whedon’s writing. But it’s good cheese, people. Not gouda, mind you. Just good.
Actually, it’s not fair to say this movie tells the story of five college kids. It’s not that simple. What it really does is tells the story of a secretive organization with tendrils all over the world whose sole purpose is to offer up ritual sacrifices to keep a bunch of vicious ancient gods bound within the depths of the planet. I really enjoyed watching what transpired with the “puppeteers” in their bunker more than I did the usual sampling of horror movie tropes unspooling with the kids in the cabin.
The movie worked for me not just because it was well made, well written, tightly plotted, and fun, but also because the guys pulling the strings behind the scenes reminded me a lot of people who run events on MUSHes like OtherSpace – except when role-playing events on OtherSpace don’t go the way we planned, it doesn’t mean the end of the world as we know it.
Considering how much I enjoyed this movie, I’m now especially psyched to check out Whedon’s Avengers later this week.
April 25, 2012 § Leave a comment
Ever since the summer of 1977, I’ve wanted to have something better than a stick and me going “VRRRUUNNNNN!” to pretend I’m a Jedi with a lightsaber.
Well, Catherine got me a great birthday present last year: A crimson lightsaber that glows and makes its own “VRRRUUNNNNN!” noises.
But even the sticks I used to fight against my brother in imaginary battles more than thirty years ago would be a better option than Star Wars Kinect.
I had high hopes for this game, but the parts that I thought I would enjoy the most – Rancor and Jedi adventures – are actually awkward and clunky and about as entertaining as really bad karaoke without heavy drinking to dull the senses. The aspect that I didn’t expect to enjoy at all turned out to be my favorite of the bunch: Podracing. But I have no idea what to make of the crazy dance numbers with Han and Leia. I appreciate that the “narrative,” such as it is, portrays these as glitched archive material, but I think I would’ve rather had Threepio report that these discs were bricked and couldn’t be shown at this time. It’s as if Lucas sat in his office and said, “Hey, it’s not enough that we inflicted Jar-Jar on people or turned a menacing icon like Darth Vader into a staggering, whiny baby in a shiny football helmet. It’s not enough we made Greedo shoot first. Let’s make Han do the Shuffle.”
Give it a pass unless you want those Star Wars dreams crushed again.
April 23, 2012 § Leave a comment
The Red Witch is spewing LOST’s smoke monster from her crotch! Who knows what else she’s got rattling around in there. Ben? John Locke? God help her, Hurley?
I shared Davos Seaworth’s WTF?! look as Melisandre stripped down, showed off her pregnant belly, and then got to birthing a shadow baby.
At first, I was stunned. Then I thought how silly it looked. And then it creeped me out. And then I realized that this is what the producers spent all the money on in this episode, since all they managed to show of Robb Stark’s great victory against the Lannisters was a wolf’s face and a field strewn with dead and wounded.
I mostly enjoyed the Harrenhall sequence for the sheer evil of making rats dig their way into someone’s chest to escape fire, but then I had to wonder: How the hell would this new bunch of prisoners from elsewhere know anything about the Brotherhood in some nearby village? What’s the point of torturing them?
Back at King’s Landing, Joffrey continues to impress as king, doesn’t he? First having a man spank Sansa with a sword, then forcing a hooker to beat her companion with a big stick. Who else is looking forward to this kid’s head showing up on a pike soon?
Glad we got back out to the Red Wastes so we could catch up with Dany and her “horde” of weakened Dothraki stumbling upon the majestic matte painting of Qarth. However, it struck me as odd that she argued with the Thirteen at first that if left outside the walls, she and her people would die. But then, after being turned away because she wouldn’t force the CGI department to produce three dragons, she argued that if left outside the walls, she would apparently live long enough to raise her dragons and burn Qarth to cinders.
All in all, not my favorite episode this season, although it had some good moments.
April 16, 2012 § Leave a comment
Last night’s episode drove home for me: This season, so far, we haven’t seen one miscast character.
All the actors thus far have been perfect for the roles they’ve been chosen to play. In this episode, we’re introduced to Brienne (hooray!) and we get a closer look(!) at Margaery Tyrell.
I’ll get back to them. First, though, Tyrion steals the episode again with his wonderful deception to flush out the spy who’s been betraying the King’s Hand. The editing during this sequence, as he plants three different stories with Pycelle, Varys, and Littlefinger, is fantastic.
Up north, beyond the Wall, Craster sends Snow and the rest of the soldiers packing because the bastard went snooping around the woods and caught sight of the secret of their survival: The old freak’s been handing out baby boys like candy to quasi-human creatures that dwell in the wilderness. Apparently, a steady diet of male children keeps the monsters at bay.
On Pyke, Theon ditches all his Winterfell finery, grows a spine, and tells off Balon for giving him a hard time for hanging around Starks when it was dear old Dad who traded him for a peace accord. Then the boy sells out, gets baptized for the Drowned God, and burns a note warning Robb Stark that the Greyjoys are going to raid the northern lands from the sea.
Meanwhile, Catelyn makes her way to Renly Baratheon’s place just in time to see the Knight of Flowers, Ser Loras, get his ass handed to him by a girl. Granted, she’s a very big girl named Brienne, played by Gwendoline Christie. Still. A girl, right?
At first, this scene sort of jarred me, because you have all these people in coats and capes and robes and scarves and heavy armor. And then you have Margaery (Natalie Dormer) sitting up on the platform with Renly (Ser Loras’ secret boyfriend), wearing a gown that exposes a bunch of cleavage. Every time the camera was on them, I certainly noticed where MY eyes were going. But then I noticed where Renly’s eyes weren’t going, and, later, Margaery’s sexual showdown with Renly just drove home how clever she really was. It probably wasn’t meant to be eye candy for the sake of eye candy, but a test (sort of like Tyrion’s with the three spies) to confirm her suspicions – because while Renly wasn’t looking at her bare chest during the combat between Loras and Brienne, he couldn’t quite take his eyes off the Knight of Flowers.
And, finally, sad to see Yoren leave the story. I thought he might be around a while longer.
Great episode. Can’t wait for next week.
April 9, 2012 § Leave a comment
Remember how I griped last week about not seeing enough of characters like Arya and Varys?
Great scenes in this episode between Varys and Tyrion in King’s Landing and between Arya and Gedry on the road north toward Winterfell. And a new Tyrion quip of the week: “You’ve perfected the art of ripping paper.”
Littlefinger’s fatherly advice to Roz started off nice enough, but then went down a dark alley.
Lots of people having sex this episode, including some people having sex while watching other people have sex. Sex in a bed. Sex on a boat. Sex on a table. And a near miss on sex with a sibling (again).
No sex north of the wall, though. Just Sam and Frodo…wait, wait, wrong epic…Jon Snow getting mixed up with one of Craster’s daughter-wives who doesn’t want her baby (if it’s a boy) fed to the White Walkers with the blue eyes.
April 8, 2012 § Leave a comment
The title of this movie needs to be We Should Have Talked About Kevin A Long Time Ago When We First Realized He Was the Second Coming of Damien.
Visually, it’s an interesting movie, with many creatively shot scenes and nice cinematic touches. Narratively, it’s a train wreck that seems to pile on weird on top of bent on top of warped for the sake of being shocking.
It tells the story of Eva, apparently a world-traveling adventurer, who gets saddled with a hateful bastard of a son and turns increasingly inward except for the rare occasion when she flings her kid against a wall and breaks his arm. She seems to brighten a bit when she gets a second chance with a daughter. But Kevin’s still around to wreck everything, for no other apparent reason than He’s Just Born That Bad (TM).
I can’t find much to fault in Tilda Swinton’s performance as Eva. She does an excellent job playing someone shattered by circumstances on one horrific day. Ezra Miller, who plays Kevin as a high schooler, and the toddler and pre-teen actors who played Kevin, seemed to channel Keanu Reeves by way of Stewie on Family Guy. John C. Reilly was John C. Reilly, which is to say he did a workmanlike job with the material at hand.
The problem with the movie, I think, is that it’s based on a book that probably does a much better job of explaining the background than the film does. I haven’t read the book, so all I can base my opinion on is the flick, and what I come away with are a variety of questions ranging from:
* How did Kevin manage to corral everyone into the gym without them noticing the locks he was putting on the doors?
* How was he able to shoot that many people with bow and arrow without someone – a couple of agile cheerleaders, for example – taking him down? It’s not like in Carrie, where the frenzied teen has supernatural powers at her disposal.
* Why in God’s name would you stay in a town where something that horrible happened, something for which many blame you, forcing you to face those repercussions every damned day? Maybe it says more about the viewer than the movie, but if you’re willing to take a crap job somewhere just to draw a meager paycheck, you should be willing to move ANYWHERE to do it with some peace of mind.
Perhaps the book does a great job of fleshing out these details about the circumstances. Sadly, the movie doesn’t, and it fails to leave me asking questions for the right reasons.