Game of Thrones – “The House of Black and White”

April 20, 2015

Season Five, Episode Two

game-of-thrones-house-of-black-and-white

Grade: B+

Power. It’s what everyone wants in Game of Thrones, but only one person can rule at a time. At this very moment, it seems like Daenerys is the most powerful in Mereen with the Unsullied (though without her dragons she loses a lot of points). Her power is why we’ve been spending so much time with her in the early going of the fifth season. It’s also the reason why Varys and Tyrion feel it’s important to travel to her. Does she really have what it takes to rule? We get a glimpse of that in this episode.

As ruler, one must always make difficult decisions that can be crucial to keeping order. There is no doubt that Daenerys is good at heart and wants the best for the world and the people who live in it, but when she has to be tough she can often let her emotions get in the way of her judgement. By all means, her decision to execute Mossador makes sense to continue the law and justice she’s trying to enforce, but he murdered the man who killed an Unsullied. Mossador has always been one of Daenerys biggest supporters, but she’s trying her best to unify the former slaves and the masters. I’m not sure if that’s going to be possible, but that’s not going to stop her from trying.

Meanwhile, Stannis rules with the way of fear. He’s tough. He knows that he’s tough and everyone else around him knows it too. It’s his fearlessness that forces people to follow him and have his way. Once you appear weak, the people will no longer respect and follow you. It’s a similar approach to how Tywin ran things, but we all saw where that got him. At the Wall, Stannis wants to promote Jon Snow away from Castle Black and as his adviser of the North as Jon Stark. He never intends to accept the offer, but is surprised when the Night’s Watch nominates him as the new Lord Commander. It was a great scene that turned Snow’s misfortunes into fortune very quickly.

As for Cersei, she’s doing her best to act the role of ruler at King’s Landing, but without much success. We all know her son isn’t fit to rule anything anytime soon, but she’ll also never have the respect of the council nor the people despite her royal name. That doesn’t leave her with much options, but for now she is most definitely the acting ruler. As for Jaime, he’s off with Bronn to Dorne to try and bring Myrcella back. Personally, I cannot wait to see more of their adventure together.

Finally, Arya gets invited into The House of Black and White with Jaqen H’gar, which should be the start to a very exciting future. What’s in store for her in Braavos? I honestly have no idea, but it’s good to know she still remembers the people she wants to kill. Oh, and that she got her coin back.

Last but not least:

– Poor Brienne. No one wants her on their side. Sexist pigs! But no, it’s the Starks who don’t trust her, which is that much more frustrating. At least she saved Podrick so we can follow them following Sansa.

– I’m still surprise how Petyr Baelish is still around and relevant. But what’s his endgame with Sansa?

game-of-thrones-house-of-black-and-white2


Movie Review: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

December 23, 2014

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)
144 minutes
Rated PG-13
Directed by Peter Jackson
Starring: Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Ian McKellen

the-hobbit-five-armies

Grade: B

The third installment of The Hobbit franchise picks up right where The Desolation of Smaug ends, which is Smaug flying towards Lake-town to burn everything to the ground. The dwarves and Bilbo can only watch from the mountain as Smaug ignites the island city. You can see the looks on their guilty faces, except for Thorin (Richard Armitage), who falls prey to “dragon sickness.”

During the attack, Bard the Bowman escapes from his prison cell and slays the dragon. He’s a hero and now the leader of the remaining from Lake-town. As a character, Bard is certainly one we root for without knowing much about. We see his family and young children run for their lives. We see Bard save hundreds and make allies with the Elves, but at the other end is Thorin and the mountain of treasure. He’s unwilling to pay back his dept for Bard’s help and he’s definitely not giving the Elvish one coin. This means war.

While The Battle of Five Armies offers a lot of action (seriously, there is a crap-load of action in the finale), it feels awfully hollow at the end. Aside from Bilbo (thanks to Martin Freeman), there wasn’t another character that we really could stand behind during the thrilling moments in the battlefield. Like I said earlier, Bard was a hero but was a one-dimensional character. And because this is a prequel, we already knew that Gandolf, Saruman, and Legalos weren’t in any danger. This isn’t the fault of the film, but just the struggle of creating prequels.

Probably my favorite scene of the film involved Gandalf, Saruman, and Galdriel as they fend off the evil forces of Sauron, the Dark Lord. It’s one that reminds us how well Peter Jackson can bring you into a scene full of incredible imagery and magic. As the good guys battle the ghosts/shadows, this scene by far trumps over the thousands that are fighting for the mountain. And even though we already know the outcome because of its direct connection to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, it’s still a great sequence of violence with dire circumstances.

With all the battles and the violence and the CGI littering the majority of the film, the center of it all is Bilbo, who through this journey has befriended Thorin and takes it among himself to bring him back from his dragon sickness. And once again, we learn that even though hobbits are little people, they have great big hearts. But Freeman’s Bilbo couldn’t entirely save this film, mainly because of the uninteresting other characters that we were clearly supposed to care deeply about.

The Hobbit trilogy cannot be discussed on the same level as the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but that was an almost impossible challenge to begin with. For what it was, The Hobbit trilogy offered us to drive into the fantasy world again where good meets evil and where greed and arrogance are challenged by the purest of creatures that no one expected to make a difference.


Flickchart Battle: War of the Worlds (2005) vs. The Fountain (2006)

May 9, 2014

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In the first corner, we have an alien-invasion science fiction film starring Tom Cruise. In the other corner, we have an epic love story spanning approximately 1,000 years with a heavy fantasy and science fiction influence. Both films stirred a lot of conversation, but neither were universally acclaimed. Which film will win this battle?

First and foremost, War of the Worlds was a huge blockbuster in 2005. With a reported budget of $130 million, the film grossed over $234 million ($591 million worldwide). There have been plenty of disaster movies, but unfortunately no one considers War of the Worlds very good, because it’s not. It’s flashy at times, but there are plenty of scenes when you wonder where all the money went to, because the special effects aren’t that spectacular. Tom Cruise demands a big paycheck, and to his credit he (and director Steve Spielberg) delivered. But with a flimsy family-story and barely enough urgency (especially when aliens are killing everything in its path!), War of the Worlds is a whirlwind of chaos.

At its best, War of the Worlds shows the confusion of such a bizarre, catastrophic event. Where did they come from? What do they want? How are they functioning? How can we defeat them? But with a weak ending and a strange encounter with Tim Robbins, War of the Worlds is hardly memorable. The only thing that has stayed in my mind since watching it in theaters are the images of humans being evaporated by the aliens’ lasers. It’s very powerful when you see hundreds of clothes floating through the air. But then again, the aliens are defeated at the end and somehow the family remained safe. I just don’t buy it.

Meanwhile, The Fountain is a very ambitious film by Darren Aronofsky, who has provided us with films such as Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler, and Black Swan. It’s safe to say that The Fountain is a misstep in Aronofsky’s career, but there is still a lot of great things happening. For one, while The Fountain isn’t an easy movie to understand, it’s one that would definitely spark up a conversation. Which story-lines were real? Which story-lines were a part of the book? What’s the meaning of the ending? You can count on Aronofsky to deliver some head-scratching scenes in most of his movies.

But just because The Fountain is thought-provoking, is it good? From his resume of films, it’s definitely on the bottom of his works, but then again it’s not a bad film, it’s just a lot more challenging than his others. The acting is very good in The Fountain, led by Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz. At the end, you’re left with a number of different feelings from the bizarre conclusion, which stem from the simple story about a man who loves a woman who dies. It’s not treated like a regular Hollywood film that bombards you with tear-jerking scenes until you’re out of tissues. It shows the passion and the distance that Tom Creo takes to try and save his wife, and the limits he breaks to try and keep her with him.

So who wins? It’s a challenging match-up because I don’t love either film, but I also don’t hate either. While War of the Worlds was a more entertaining film from a classic story, The Fountain is incredibly original. And shouldn’t filmmakers who take risks be rewarded? I think they should, and that’s why I’m picking The Fountain as the winner of this Flickchart Battle!

Winner: The Fountain


Game of Thrones – “Two Swords”

April 7, 2014

Season Four, Episode One

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Grade: B+

After watching some episodes from the marathon on HBO2, the season four premiere felt very scattered, like a montage of all the characters and where they are now. “Two Swords” takes place not too far after when the season three finale ended. The Lannisters are still in power and enjoying a hiatus in the war, though Jaime warns them that the war never ends. While there isn’t any direct battles that involve the Lannisters, they’re far from feeling safe and happy.

While Jaime was one of the most hated characters in the early-going of the series, he’s worked his way into our hearts especially since he’s been cut down to size without his right hand. Sympathy was something I thought I’d never feel for Jaime, but after his time on the road with Brienne, he’s a character that I don’t completely hate anymore. So when he has his conversation with Cersei, I felt the cold breeze from her words as they stung Jaime right in the heart.

Also at King’s Landing, Tyrion and Sansa are still trying to figure out their marriage, but how could she when all she can think about is the brutal murder of her family from the Red Wedding. Tyrion does his best to try and be sympathetic, but to no avail. Also, Tyrion seems to be losing Shae in more than one way. Let’s see how Cersei takes the news that Tyrion and Shae are in love with each other.

Meanwhile, we get snippets of our other main characters. Daenerys marches on with her army; Jon Snow is back at the Wall and warns his superiors of the danger that is coming its way; Ygritte’s people are joined by the Thenns who roast a human arm; and Arya and the Hound search for food. The final scene involving Arya, the Hound and a handful of the King’s men was full of tension with a happy outcome when Arya seeks revenge and finally gets Needle back. For a moment watching the scene, I wasn’t sure if Arya was going to jump in and help the Hound, or if she was going to cower in the corner. But I’m sure glad she did spring into action!

Like every season, it’ll be fun to track how the chess pieces move around the board before the show hits us with another huge battle or another stunner. We’ll have the big wedding to look forward to, along with the defense of the Wall and the journey of the Hound and Arya. And for those who hate the Lannisters, let’s just hope that this is the beginning to the end of their ruling.


Revolution – “Come Blow Your Horn”

November 18, 2013

Season Two, Episode Eight

revolution-come-blow

Grade: B+

Truman tells the residents of Willoughby (I keep thinking to type Woodbury from The Walking Dead) that Miles is the one responsible for the bomb that went off inside the walls and that he, along with Aaron, Rachel, and Charlie, are terrorists. So what does the gang decide to do? Make them eat their words by cooking up a bomb to eliminate Dr. Horn and anyone else hiding in the headquarters.

This part of the episode was full of the most tension because of the elephant in the room that Rachel and Charlie eventually discuss: what to do with Gene Porter? Charlie knows she can’t forgive her grandfather but she can forget his betrayal, while Rachel has more rage than forgiveness inside of her heart. What ends up happening is what we all expected, while Rachel sneaks to the roof of the building, Gene walks in to visit with Dr. Horn. Does Rachel drop the chemicals? Charlie certainly doesn’t want her to, but Miles calmly mutters that it’s Rachel’s decision. That all changes when a few Patriot officers bring in Aaron and Cynthia. The problem is Rachel doesn’t see this and Miles and Charlie have no way to tell her. Can this be the end of a handful of major characters?!

Of course not, but I must admit that this was one of the more suspenseful moments on Revolution this season. The way Rachel quietly climbs the steps to the roof while a dozen guards litter the yard. Seeing Gene walk into the headquarters just added to the decision of leaving the building in flames, but then when Aaron is seen your heart just drops! But ninja Miles swoops in and prevents Rachel from dropping the chemicals (which has me thinking, why didn’t Miles just climb to the roof instead of Rachel?).

This is when we just have to say, Poor Aaron. Since the beginning he’s been the one who’s arguably the most useless out of the group. He even knows it, but he’s that underdog character that it’s hard to root against. But since he’s been resurrected from the dead and has super-human powers, he’s target number one on Dr. Horn’s list. Why? Because he has a tumor growing in his brain and believes the nanotech that brought Aaron back to life can cure his tumor. Whoa. Oh, and Dr. Horn will do anything for this to happen, which includes torturing Aaron, watching his body heal itself like Wolverine, and eventually has an officer stab Cynthia to draw out an emotional response. That Dr. Horn is an evil man!

Meanwhile, Neville talks with Allenford’s husband, Roger, and makes a deal with him to hand over his traitor wife so the camp can see his loyalty to the Patriots. Roger has a change of heart nearing the site his wife’s being held, but Neville’s no fool. “I thought something like this might happen,” he said with a small smile. You simply don’t mess with Neville. Period. In the end, Roger shoots Secretary Allenford and Neville’s plan to climb the Patriot ranks is still moving flawlessly. It’s uncertain what’s going to be Neville’s next play, but that’s what keeps this part of the story-line so interesting. Unlike Miles and company trying to escape Willoughby (and for a while now), we really don’t know what’s in store for Neville as he continues to travel from camp to camp.

In the end, a lot of characters are facing imminent danger: Aaron spreads flames in the dungeon, Gene stares down the gun pointed at his head from Truman, Cynthia’s stab wound to the stomach, and Miles and company still wanted as terrorists. Last week I pointed out how the urgency level should be raised… well we finally got it. Now I’m concerned whether or not Revolution will keep their foot on the gas pedal, or will they slow down the action and draw out all the situations?

Last but not least:

  • Monroe leaves Aaron because if he’s captured, he’s dead. Smart, and also shows how Monroe wouldn’t sacrifice himself for others.
  • Miles has a nasty infection spreading down his arm. Still, with one arm he’s still a kick-ass killing machine.
  • Charlie was border-line annoying, preaching to her mom about keeping Gene alive.
  • We see a lot of Dr. Horn flashbacks and learn he’s not a religious man, but he’s still a creepy old hellraiser!

Revolution – “The Patriot Act”

November 10, 2013

Season Two, Episode Seven

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Grade: B

With the death that never was, it just happens that no one was surprised either. Let’s just take that into consideration for a moment. Miles seemed to be upset that his former buddy was about be lethally injected. I mean, he was staring into space, alone at a bar. That’s a dead giveaway of how he feels! Plus Charlie and Aaron seemed pretty sad as well, but everyone was present when Monroe’s eyes opened. Surprise! Or not. Which makes me wonder, if everyone (or at least someone) knew about this, how did Gene not hear about the plan (since he’s a spy Patriot). I’m not entirely buying this, but whatever it’s in the past.

Monroe is beyond the walls of Willoughby but the main concern this episode is for Aaron, who has been linked to Rachel for knowing about the nanotech. Dr. Calvin Horn (Zeljko Ivanek) is up to no good and he doesn’t even bother to hide it. Whether he’s talking or just staring at you, you cringe at the possibility of what he’s thinking. He’s offended that Rachel doesn’t remember him (strike one!) from back in the day when he was involved with the technology Rachel was discovering. But now Dr. Horn is the adviser to the President and he wants answers from Rachel.

Even though Rachel and Aaron are in the direct line of fire here, this is Gene Porter’s episode. We see flashbacks of how he became involved with the Patriots and through time he develops a guilty conscience. So he over-hears the group devising a plan to get Aaron pass the guards of Willougby and wants to help. But Porter becomes another victim of Dr. Horn’s maniacal stare and gives the plan up. Good thing Miles is one step ahead of him! So they go through with Plan B, which involves Aaron and Cynthia to climb through the sewers. And just when you think they’re caught, Monroe to the rescue! Well, Monroe and Aaron’s supernatural powers to set people on fire. What’s interesting about this is how Cynthia and Monroe witnesses this. Monroe wants to learn how Aaron did it while Cynthia is scared out of her mind.

All of this is really hard on Rachel and she’s unable to accept the fact that her dad is a Patriot who sold her out. But the mission is accomplished. Aaron and Cynthia are free with Monroe, though this does mean that Dr. Horn will definitely be after Rachel. While all of this is going on, Neville sprung quite a surprise on us this episode. Allenford sees the effects wearing off on Jason and laments how she should’ve given her own son a better chance. And then Neville drugs her and later on admits she’s been duped! She was the target this entire time and now they’re on their way to her super high Patriot husband to tear them down! How’s that for a Revolution twist!

Even though Revolution is only in its second season, there’s a big difference in the way they’re establishing setting. We’ve been practically stuck in Willoughby this season while in season one we were brought on the adventure of the characters constantly moving (either to rescue Danny or to kill Monroe). Yes, we still have Neville on the road but it sort of seems like a prison break where the rest of the main characters are captive in Willoughby, trying to find a way out. Sure, they want to tear down the Patriot empire first, but how is that even going to be possible without some outside reinforcements? Right now, it seems like the plot has stalled quite a bit, waiting for something big to happen to give Miles a chance to bring a fight to them. Whether that’s going to be Neville or not has yet to be seen, but I hope they don’t wait too long.


Revolution – “Dead Man Walking”

November 3, 2013

Season Two, Episode Six

revolution-dead-man-walking

Grade: B-

Since the beginning of the second season, we’re shown a different side to most of our main characters. Monroe’s trying to help out, Charlie isn’t as annoying, Miles has a heart and is showing it, Aaron can burn people to death just by getting mad, and Rachel has become the annoying brat of the group. This has all been welcoming since the second season is much better than the first, but in “Dead Man Walking” we hit a slight speed bump.

The mystery is how the Patriots were able to figure out that, A. Monroe is nearby and, B. where exactly to find him. Much of the episode is dedicated to Monroe, his flashbacks and his inevitable future. But this is Revolution and trust me, no one was surprised at the sight of Rachel digging up his body that was just buried. No one. It’s not a hanging or a shooting, it’s death by lethal injection that coincidentally is prepared by Rachel. So what’s her play? She obviously wants Monroe dead, but did Miles’ pep talk change her mind?

Either way, I’m glad that Revolution didn’t kill off Monroe (yet) because he’s become arguably the strongest character in the second season. The episode did a good job reminding us that Monroe is still a bad person, but maybe he’s trying to atone for his mistakes (or maybe he’s just fooling us all!). But now Miles and the gang have an even bigger task to overtake the Patriots with the Texas Rangers as their allies.

The strongest scene of the episode was between Miles and Monroe as they reminisce for a bit before Monroe tells Miles to find his son and look after him. But BAM! Miles drops the bomb that he’s known about his son all along and has been hiding him from Monroe. What a slap to the face! Is this true? And when Monroe comes back from being buried, how’s he going to react to Miles? Either way, I can’t wait to see more M&M intensity.

In the other story-lines, Neville tracked down his son with Secretary Allenford, but Jason’s been re-programed to hate Neville. While this isn’t the better plot of the second season, it’s still engaging enough to keep watching. Neville’s lost everything and will do anything to save his son, but is it too late? Is this going to cost him in the near future? And then there’s Aaron who had a conversation with a reporter in the bar. Yup, a reporter because there are plenty in Texas. Aaron has to find his place on this show soon, and I wouldn’t mind if that means he starts setting more fires.

Last but not least:

  • Seriously, all of the events leading up to (and after) Monroe’s death just made you realize he’s not going to be dead for long.
  • So Dr. Porter is the leak to the Patriots. He’s a good, conflicted character the show should concentrate on more (though I feel he won’t make it to the end of this season). Being between Rachel and Charlie, as the leak to the Patriots, and not liking Miles but understanding Rachel needs him, hell he should have his own story arc!

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