A Mind on Fire https://www.amindonfire.com Books, Movies, TV and Whatever Fri, 24 May 2019 02:42:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 https://www.amindonfire.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/favicon-150x150.png A Mind on Fire https://www.amindonfire.com 32 32 Prospect Mines Science Fiction Gold https://www.amindonfire.com/prospect-mines-science-fiction-gold/ Fri, 24 May 2019 02:42:13 +0000 https://www.amindonfire.com/?p=10280 Prospect may not have a multi million dollar budget but it has a multi million dollar attitude and attitude goes a long way.

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Prospect is a small movie with a lot of ambition. It starts off in the confines of a small spacecraft with Cee (Sophie Thatcher) and her father Damon (Jay Duplass, of the Duplass Brothers fame). They’ve docked at a space station before heading to a planet where they plan to start mining for a mineral called orlac.

Think of orlac as gold and Damon and Cee as prospectors. It sounds like an attempt at making a western. There’s even a claim jumper, Ezra, played by Pedro Pascal (Oberyn Martell on Game of Thrones and soon to be The Mandalorian). Damon and Ezra mention more than once the Queen’s Lair and the Rush. The Queen’s Lair is the mother lode of orlac and we are to assume the Rush was a time much like the Gold Rush on earth.

Cee and Damon mining for Orlac in the indie science fiction movie Prospect

Some other reviews may emphasize a more western feel to the movie. There may be something to that argument. Like Mattie Ross in True Grit Cee’s father is killed by someone who is more than likely an outlaw. Though Mattie doesn’t seek revenge Ezra, like Rooster Cogburn, becomes some what of a surrogate father figure to her. Ezra even speaks like a character out of Deadwood, but the other trappings of a western are no where to be found and any argument that Prospect is a western is probably a stretch at best.

Instead, Prospect is a tight little movie about a girl whose father is killed and she’s forced to go things on her own. It was already established early in the movie Cee had to grow up quick. We’re not given too much details on the outside world beyond Cee and Damon’s spacecraft, but we can assume Cee likes the same things other girls her age would like- music, young adult novels.

Sophie Thatcher as Cee in the indie science fiction movie Prospect

Cee may like things other girls like, but things aren’t easy for the father and daughter. They’re struggling to make money and they owe others a lot of money. Their surroundings are also old, beaten, and battered. You could easily imagine if this universe had duct tape things inside the craft would be held together by rolls of it. As it happens, a component in the spacecraft explodes leaving the duo stranded on the planet.

If there’s a feel to the movie its more of a science fiction vibe from early science fiction movies and comic books. The suits Damon, Cee, Ezra wear resemble something from pulp science fiction magazines and movies from the 50s and 60s. The guns used by the characters for the most part are simple single shot guns and rifles not unlike the space guns found in early Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon serials.

Pedro Pascal as Ezra in the indie science fiction movie Ezra

What separates Prospect from other science fiction movies of the past few years is what directors Christopher Caldwell and Zeek Earl (a name so cool I’m thinking of naming my first born after him) managed to do as first time directors and with a small budget.

Prospect didn’t have a big budget. Compared to other science fiction movies that have come out in the past couple of years the 820 thousand design budget the two directors scraped together through a Kickstarter campaign and other means is microscopic. One special effects shot in Avengers: Infinity War cost more than Prospect‘s entire budget.

It’s amazing what Caldwell, Earl, and their team put together on what seemed like pure will and tenacity. What the team has managed to do is create an alien world in their own backyard. It’s a convincing world too. Things floating in the air make the world toxic to breathe which require all the characters to remain in suits while outside. At times the helmets make it difficult to understand what the actors are saying. Sometimes it’s okay, but when we can’t hear Sheila Vand (A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night) it’s frustrating.

You may find the story average and it may not break new ground, but you’ll find yourself easily immersed in this word. That’s something not a lot of high budget science fiction movies. Movies like Passengers, Life, and Gravity (as great of a movie as it is) are sleak and shiny. It’s easy to remember your watching a movie. Prospect is more, pardon the pun, down to earth. You can imagine yourself more in the world of Prospect than a multi-million dollar blockbuster. Prospect is more familiar to us and because it is more familiar you’ll be in this world along with Cee, Damon, and Ezra. It’s a movie any science fiction fan will enjoy.

A+

Cee sitting down in the indie science fiction movie Prospect

 

 

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Game Of Thrones Season Finale Finds No One On The Iron Throne Part I https://www.amindonfire.com/game-of-thrones-season-finale-finds-no-one-on-the-iron-throne-part-i/ Tue, 21 May 2019 01:02:41 +0000 https://www.amindonfire.com/?p=10264 Game of Thrones has come, gone, and will go down in television history as one of the best series to have a horrible ending. Read more to find out.

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A few hours have passed since the credits rolled on the last episode of Game of Thrones. The series had its ups and downs and its highs and lows. Fans laughed, fans cried, and fans rejoiced. One thing the series never lacked was a debate between fans. Social media was awash on a weekly basis with theories, debates, and arguments. The most divisive episode of the series is possibly the Game of Thrones season finale, “The Iron Throne.”

Of all the theories floating around the Internet the only one guaranteed to come to true is that not everyone was going to be happy with the finale. In this sense, the Game of Thrones season finale did not fail to deliver. On other things Game of Thrones it failed miserably, but at the same time Wiess and Benioff ended the series the only they knew how to end it.

A Rushed Series Ends in a Rushed Ending

If anything the Game of Thrones finale showed us the series needed another season to wrap things up. It also showed us the series was rushed. We could point to the now infamous coffee cup, which lead to Starbucks reaping the profits. A company couldn’t pay HBO for the advertising one little blunder provided Starbucks. We could point to the water bottle John Bradley (Sam Tarly) tried to hide behind his foot. We would have never seen these blunders in past seasons. These two blunders are just symptoms of the last season being rushed.

the Starbucks coffee in Winterfell on Game of Thrones

How much did companies pay for product placement in GoT? Don’t ask Starbucks, They didn’t pay a dime.

The series was running out of time in season five. It was around this time characters starting getting from place to place in the blink of an eye. It was also around this time characters’s story lines were being abbreviated ( Littlefinger’s death) and altered. However, we all held to the promise of a  final showdown between the dead and the living and between Jon Snow and the Night King. This face off never materialized. Instead it would be Arya who killed the Night King which pretty much ended Jon Snow’s story

A water bottle takes center stage on Game of Thrones

Which bottled water company is going to get the credit?

Jon Snow of the Freefolk

Technically, Jon’s story didn’t end until the last scene of the finale. But somehow he seemed to be forced into the background. Even as events unfolded all he could do was stand around and have others tell him what to do. It could be argued after Jon watched Daenerys burn Varys alive and after watching her kill innocent women and children convincing him to turn against Daenerys would be easy. It didn’t take Tyrion but a long speech to convince Jon. Yet it still felt forced and rushed.

Jon greets Ghost in Game of Thrones finale

The reunion we all wanted to see.

If there’s a bright side to Jon’s ending it’s where he ends up at end of the series. He may have been banished to a now useless Night’s Watch, but that’s not where Jon settles. If you recall when the armies were preparing to march on King’s Landing Tormund tried to convince Jon to stay in the North. It’s where he belonged Tormund told him. The smile on his face as the episode ends is all the confirmation we need that Jon is not going back. He was bastard, then a Stark, then a Targaryen. At the end of the finale Jon became Freefolk. It’s not important where he finally stops, just that he’s finally free of everything the last eight seasons dumped on him.

The Mad Queen Or Just Bad Character Writing

There’s been enough debate on Daenerys becoming the Mad Queen, going crazy, and burning King’s Landing. It’s not enough to point to two or three examples, many of which were committed against tyrants and slavers, to explain Daenerys sudden change. It’s also not enough for Tyrion to say one or two “wise words” to explain away seven and half seasons of Daenerys freeing slaves, destroying tyrants, and breaking the wheel. If there had been enough time the showrunners and writers could have fleshed out her descent into madness over the course of several episodes.

Drogon sniffs Daenerys in Game of Thrones finale

This is the part where fans assign human characteristics to a dragon

Let’s just say, for the sake or argument, the series did a great job of convincing us all Daenerys was indeed crazy. What made her crazy? Fans of the Mad Queen theory will point to her parentage. Others will point to the fact she couldn’t trust anyone. Others will say it was because she wasn’t the only heir to the throne. There lies the problem with the final scene between Daenerys and Jon.

If Daenerys was crazy and if she feared Jon could at any moment stake a claim to the throne why was she in a room by herself with him? Mad people,crazy people, have a tendency to be paranoid. A paranoid Queen would have guards with her at all times, even a touching moment as gazing on the Iron Throne. Yet, Daenerys has no guards. Even worse, when she plants a long passionate kiss on Jon he returns the kiss with as much passion. Jon hasn’t been too touchy feely with Daenerys since he learned they were related. But this doesn’t bother Daenerys in the least.

A meme about Daenerys in Game of Thrones finale

Yup

A Happy Ending For The Starks

The Game of Thrones season finale ultimately fell flat. Weiss and Beinoff said the finale wasn’t going to be a happy ending, but that’s exactly what was delivered. Tyrion became the Right Hand to the King (Again). Arya, who must have received some sailing training during her many years of learning to be an assassin (We’re still not sure where these many years of training came from), sailed off into the sunset. Sansa became ruler of the North and Bran, who did the least amount of any character on the series, became king.

Sansa becomes Queen of the North in the Game of Thrones finale

Does Jessica Chastain have a problem with Sansa’s ending?

If the series was called The Starks Game of Thrones it would have been a fitting ending. All of the remaining Starks ended up where they were meant to be. But it wasn’t a series only about the Starks. It was a series about everyone playing the game, a game which lost all meaning towards the end of the series.

We’re not done dissecting and looking at the Game of Thrones finale. There’s a lot more to mine in the episode. It’s not all bad, but it sure isn’t all good.

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Characters And Theories On Game of Thrones Comes To An End https://www.amindonfire.com/characters-theory-game-of-thrones/ Mon, 20 May 2019 00:40:07 +0000 https://www.amindonfire.com/?p=10252 All good things must come to an end and Game of Thrones is no exception. So here's one last theory to be squashed and a character who should have a better edning than he will get.

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Sunday’s Game of Thrones episode will be its last. Yes, fans, the series is coming to an end. It seems like only yesterday the vast majority of us were introduced the Starks and the Lannisters. It wasn’t long after their introduction the vast majority of us got real tired of people saying “In the book.” We got it, we understood. Those who had read the books were smarter than us non-readers and more in tune with the what was “really going on” in the series. Then something amazing happened. The series ran out of books and we were all on the same level of the playing field.

Fans of the books and series are without doubt some of the most rabid television fans one is likely to meet in person or on social media. As we’ve seen, speak against a beloved character and you’re speaking against the actor and the person who likes said character. But here we are with one episode left and there is still a lot of smack to talk.

Jon Snow leaves in a boat in Game of Thrones

Jon Snow looks back on seven season of a wasted story.

Season eight saw Jon Snow’s story arc come, mostly, to an end. Jon’s main goal in the series was to convince everyone the dead were coming and a giant wall wasn’t going to stop them. The Night King all but called Jon Snow on to the proverbial carpet at the end of “Hardhome,” Everyone expected an epic face off between the Night King and Jon Snow. Everyone was disappointed. Sorry, Arya fans, there was nothing to set the stage for her to kill the Night King.

The tragic consequences of Arya killing the Night King and, in a round about way, the Night King being killed to quick is Weiss and Benioff have relegated Jon to almost second tier status. Which is a shame. Jon has been a driving force in the series since the very first episode. Now we see him running and jumping from place to place and rock to rock without any real motivation. Perhaps Jon Snow, the character, can be redeemed and placed on a more coherent path. It’s a tall order with ninety minutes of the series left, but anything can happen. Right?

It would seem there is no real plan to end Jon Snow’s story. Unless we’re to believe a fan theory that has been spread around since the beginning of the season. The theory goes Jon Snow will kill Daenerys and take the Iron Thrones. Only problem with that is Jon has said time and time again he doesn’t want the throne. The other problem with this theory is the big, ticked off dragon who is never far away from Daenerys. This is the same dragon responsible for destroying pretty much all of King’s Landing. Any ending would almost be anticlimactic to a story arch that has been building for the past seven seasons.

Jon looks Cersei in Game of Thrones

Did Jon really think he could talk Cersei into a treaty to fight the Night King?

There aren’t a lot of main characters left in the series. Weiss and Benioff have taken care of Jamie and Cersei Lannister in the most uncharacteristic way possible. Jamie’s story was leading towards redemption. Cersei, on the other hand, deserved her fate. As much as fans hated her ending it was fitting the character. At her core, Cersei Lannister was a coward. She never dealt with things face to face. She always had someone else to do her dirty work for her. This may be the way things work in royalty circles, but not in the Game of Thrones.

The showrunners have also dispatched Gendry to Storm’s End. His story should be over unless Arya somehow teleports herself across the Westeros. Or Gendry shows up at the last minute to claim the throne as one theory has him doing in the series finale. Except he’s not the last royal who could take the throne. Robert Baratheon usurped the throne from Aerys Targaryen. A Targaryen would have more claim to the throne than one of Robert Baratheon’s many children.

Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

For all her bravado, Cersei was a coward at heart.

Here’s one theory not a lot of fans have embraced. This theory is as follows: Daenerys sits on the throne at the end of the series. No one can stop her or her pissed off dragon. She still has the Unsullied, lead by even more pissed off Greyworm, who seem to multiply after every battle. She also has the invincible Dothraki, who also seem to multiply after every battle.

Scenes for the series finale show a lot of surprised and, maybe, ticked off people. Who among them could stop her? Tyrion will be lucky to make it through the first half of the episode. Varys is gone. However, his birds may have spread the word far and wide about Jon’s true parentage. Another quick teleportation trick would have the armies of the North at King’s Landing in no time. Would the letters work on Dorne or the Iron Islands? Neither have an allegiance to the North but all have pledged to back Daenerys.

Only a few short hours and we will know the ending. The only theory that has any merit and will undoubtly come true is that not everyone is going to be happy how one of the best television series in the history of television ends.

Ned's last moments in Game of Thrones

None of this would have happened if Ned stayed in Winterfell

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Characters, Stories, and Failure in Game of Thrones Part II https://www.amindonfire.com/characters-stories-failure-game-of-thrones/ Fri, 17 May 2019 03:12:20 +0000 https://www.amindonfire.com/?p=10185 A quick look at a couple characters and we discredit one new fan theory.

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Characters. Stories. Some we don’t get invested in. Others we get so invested in so deep any word against them is considered sacrilege. A comment against a character is an insult against the actor. Call Arya Stark a Mary Sue (She’s not, it’s just really bad writing on the part of David Benioff and D. B. Weiss) and you’re going to be greeted with all sorts of call outs. If you explain death has no meaning in Marvel movies fans of the Marvel Comic’s cinematic universe are likely to give you the social media equivalent of a punch in the nose.

Regardless of the plot holes and inconsistencies running through Game of Thrones, and there are  a lot in the series (For example: how does Arya who is “trained” as an assassin become a soldier with skills to match? How did Euron manage to build a thousand ships in such a short amount of time?), the series has had some of the most dynamic characters in recent television history.

SANSA

Sansa in King's Landing in Game of Thrones

When Sansa Stark was first introduced she was the very definition of the spoiled brat. She wanted to be in King’s Landing more than she wanted to be in Winterfell. The glitz and riches of King’s Landing were more alluring than the cold of the North. She sided with Joffrey after a Nymeria bit him. She went to King’s Landing willingly only to find things in the capital weren’t all golden and after the death of Ned Stark things got even worse for poor Sansa. She suffered Joffrey’s torments, cruel intentions from Littlefinger, and was raped by Ramsay Bolton.

Now Sansa is the Lady of Winterfell. She’s not taking shit from anyone. She plotted with Arya, off screen we were told later, to eliminate Littlefinger. She helped unite the North to fight the Night King and his army of the dead. She also betrayed her brother’s confidence and told Tyrion his secret. Whether she knew it or not letting Tyrion in on the family secret made have lead King’s Landing being burnt to a crisp.

Lady Sansa of Winterfell in Game of Thrones

It seemed when Jon and the armies of the North left Winterfell Sansa wouldn’t be in the series anymore. However, her  position in the series may change after Sunday’s hit-or-miss episode, “The Bells.” Fans are doing a quick readjustment on all their other Game of Thrones theories. Now GoT theorists are predicting Sansa and Tyrion will rule the Seven Kingdoms together. Given Sansa’s past with King’s Landing and her new position in Winterfell this is one prediction that will probably not come to pass. There’s also not enough time to get Sansa to Winterfell, convince Tyrion and Sansa to rule together, hear Jon say he doesn’t want the throne (again), and kill Daenerys.

Recently, the actress Jessica Chastain made some social media waves with her comment’s regarding the Hound and Sansa. She took exception with Sansa telling the Hound her past experiences made her who she had become. Chastain claimed she was never a little bird and she didn’t need the experiences to become a phoenix.

A Tweet from Jessica Chastain about Game of Thrones

Except, Jessica doesn’t understand some basic fundamentals of storytelling. Characters are a lot like Newton’s First Law of Motion except replace object with character. A character is going to remain the same unless something acts upon the character to make a change. There was nothing in the story that would have changed the Sansa character from a weak timid girl more interested in shiny things into the commanding Lady of Winterfell. Chastain and many of her Twitter followers would have Sansa change overnight with no reasoning behind the change. Unfortunately that’s not how a good story works.

THEON GREYJOY

Notice how Chastain makes no mention of Theon Greyjoy’s treatment at the hands of Ramsay Bolton. Theon went from being Ned Starks’s ward and a supporter of Robb Stark’s secession to a pretty wicked ruler of Winterfell who killed children. Theon had a change of heart after his treatment at the hand’s of Ramsay Bolton. In the end, he gave his life protecting Bran from the Night King.

Theon Greyjoy as Reek in Game of Thrones

Did Theon have to be enslaved, tortured, humiliated, and then castrated in order to be called “a good man?” The easy answer is “no.” However, if we answer no then Theon has to come to the conclusion on his own that his past deeds were wrong and that he betrayed the Starks, a family who called him family in all but name. How was he to come to this conclusion on his own in a way that would feel authentic and not cheat the audience? Simply stated he could not come to this conclusion on his own. If we use Chastain’s logic having his manhood snipped was not the answer, but Chastain is not interested in violent actions against men.

THEORIES

Fans are full of theories. Since the series ran longer than George R.R. Martin’s novels the fans have been obsessing over theories and what theories will or will not come true. When their predictions come true (Daenerys burning King’s Landing) they’re all in an uproar. Now a new theory is making some minor waves. The new theory says Bran will do his Three-Eyed Raven trick to travel back in time and right the wrongs. This may make some fans happy if he changes some bad character development, but overall it’s one of the worst ideas to come along in quite some time.

Theon Greyjoy sailing to the Iron Islands on Game of Thrones

Time travel is one of the worst tropes and crimes a writer could make. Time travel is the solution to bad writing. When the writers on Heroes wrote the series into a corner they turned to Hiro to go back in time to change history.Ten years of Marvel movies, the big snap event that brought fans to tears, all discarded because of time travel. Contrary to the views of a lot of fans the time travel and now the introduction of a multi-verse serves one main goal for the MCU and Disney. The time travel trope and multi-verse allows Disney to keep the cash cow of Marvel movies churning for years to come.

Unless the movie or series starts with the premise of time travel at its core (Think Back to the Future, Primer, Time Lapse, Timecrimes) it can only lead to bad things. Time travel is a tricky element to add to any story. It often makes a story more confusing than it needs to be. Time travel eliminates any good will a story may have built up with its audience. Death means nothing when you can go back in time to undo the death so the character can have sequel after sequel (See: Spider-Man: Far From Home, Guardians of the Galaxy 3, Black Panther 2).

Tyrion-Game-of-Thrones

If some fan theories are correct Game of Thrones isn’t immune to the time travel trope either. This Mashable article about how Bran will travel back in time, save everyone, and in the process become the Night King is just one of many articles floating around the internet and posted tweets on Twitter. As theories go a Bran who travels back in time to become the Night King to save everyone is too ludicrous to imagine. However, we have to remember the only reason Weiss and Benioff had Arya kill the Night King and not Jon was because no one expected it.

Guardians of the Galaxy has nothing to do with the Game of Thrones

What’s dead cannot die…especially in Marvel movies,

If Weiss and Benioff do go down this road it will ruin what was once one of the best series ever to air or stream on a television. Which fan theory is correct and which ones are wrong will have to wait until Sunday. The final episode is not going to make everyone happy. If we get an ending fit for the series though it will make a lot more fans happy than angry. At the very least, don’t put Bran on the thrones.

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The Bells Are Rocked in Episode Five Of Game of Thrones https://www.amindonfire.com/the-bells-are-rocked-in-episode-five-of-game-of-thrones/ Tue, 14 May 2019 01:27:09 +0000 https://www.amindonfire.com/?p=10202 Fans are reacting to Game of Thrones giving them everything wanted in The Bells. We react to the fans not being happy with what they got in The Bells.

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The penultimate episode of Game of Thrones has come and gone. Some fans were happy. A lot more were upset. Mainly they were upset because everything they wanted to happen happened in “The Bells.” But what did we learn from “The Bells?”

ARYA

First, we learned Arya is immune to buildings falling on her and dragon fire. Maybe she’s a Targaryen (sarcasm intended). It may be sarcasm, but Arya managed to dodge a lot of falling rocks and one giant blast of dragon fire. We also learned Arya won’t complete her kill/revenge list anytime soon.

Arya stands in the rubble of King's Landing during The Bells episode 5 of Game of Thrones

Fan theories abounded about Melisandre’s eye prophecy meant Arya would kill Cersei next because she had green eyes. David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have proved time and time again they can cast prophecies aside. Fans are now turning to the fact that Daenerys has green eyes. Of course, this means Arya is going to kill her in the last episode.

However, we should not forget The Hound’s last words to Arya:

“You think you wanted revenge for a long time? I’ve been after it all my life. It’s all I cared about. And look at me. Look at Me? You want to be like me? You come with me, you die here.”

The Hound warns Arya against revenge in The Bells Episode 5 of Game of Thrones

Arya’s last words to Sandor, a name she rarely called him, was “Thank you.” She wasn’t thanking him for talking her out of running up collapsing stairs to certain death. The thank you was after a stare in his eyes and moment of thought. His words were clear- If you keep at your list, if you keep seeking revenge you will end up being miserable and alone the rest of your life. Arya will not being killing Daenerys out of revenge in the last episode. Arya may kill Daenerys for other reasons (defending Jon), but not out of revenge.

VARYS

We also learned some fans are giving Varys a lot more credit than he deserves for trying to warn people about Daenerys. The entire time he was with Daenerys he was all behind her, the Mother of Dragons. It wasn’t until Tyrion told him Jon Snow was the rightful heir to the Iron Throne his tune changed. Unless, there was something happening off screen (Which is possible. This is the same series that killed Littlefinger based on off screen plans between Sansa and Arya) there was nothing saying Daenerys was going to go dragon mad.Varys before execution in The Bells episode 5 Game of Thrones

Varys has always been the Master of Whispers. It would only be natural for him to cultivate his little spy birds to gather information, but from the time Tyrion told him about Jon’s true nature to his last moments he didn’t have time to gather enough information to make a solid judgement. So, when he makes an attempt to warn Jon Daenerys is stark raving mad he had nothing to support his cause. What else was Jon to do but turn down his offer to claim the throne?

Jon Snow

A lot of fans were disappointed in Jon. After all, what did he do but run around King’s Landing not doing a lot of anything. It’s hard to argue Jon was doing much more than that or anything else. What else was there to do? Jon, by his own inaction, was put in a position he couldn’t do anything more. He tried to stop troops hell bent on murder and rape. He tried to get as many people to safety as could. Beyond helping the helpless and defending himself there wasn’t much he could do.

Jon Snow before invading King's Landing in The Bells Game of Thrones

What Jon can be criticized for is doing nothing when he could have done something. The look he gives Daenery’s after Drogon burns Varys alive tells us everything he’s thinking. Varys’s speech Jon cut short is is finished in the execution of Varys. He knows at that moment Daenerys is not the woman she has been portraying herself. At that moment Jon could have stopped her, but he didn’t. He even went on to attack King’s Landing with her. Jon was a bit player in “The Bells” because he made himself a bit player.

Daenerys The Mad Queen

The fan’s theory of Daenerys going mad and burning the city came true, but there were no clues or hints given that should would go crazy. Most of these theories were based on her father going mad and the books. For seven and half seasons Daenerys rejected everything her father stood for. She was the Breaker of Chains. She promised things would be different with her as queen. She even claimed she didn’t want to be queen of ashes.

Daenerys in mourning in The Bells episode five of Game of Thrones

“In the books” fans will say there was evidence, but in the books a lot of things happen. These aren’t the books and I shouldn’t have to read the books to pick up the clues that should have been in the series. Daenerys did burn Randyll and Dickon Tarly to death with other soldiers who would not accept her as queen. But what was she to do with them? Let them go? Put them in prison? Even Henry V at the Battle of Agincourt executed French soldiers who had surrendered to his army. Is killing a few soldiers enough proof to demonstrate she was going to go crazy? I think not.

There was a moment, however brief, it seemed Daenerys wasn’t going to burn the city to the ground. In that moment, Beinoff and Weiss could have done a hundred other things. A hundred better things than having Daenerys burn King’s Landing to the ground. Here’s the problem Beinoff and Weiss have created- How do you wrap up another story thread in 79 minutes at the same time wrapping up the entire Game of Thrones series?

Combat Not Needed

Daenerys ready to burn King's Landing in The Bells episode five Game of Thrones

“The Bells” also taught us combat and armies are unnecessary when you have one dragon. It doesn’t matter how the thousands Dothraki soldiers killed at the start of The Battle of Winterfell materialized out of thin air or how the Unsullied multiplied. It really doesn’t matter when you have one agile dragon and a Lannister/Greyjoy army that shoots anti-dragon cannons worse than Star Wars Stormtroopers.

One dragon was all Daenerys needed to defeat Cersei Lannister. The seasons of building up an army and forging alliances were a waste of time. We could argue the plan was for Drogon to be used in another capacity. Maybe he was going to be used to soften the Lannister army or just blow down the wall allowing Jon and Daenerys’s army to invade the city. We could make that argument, but there is nothing to support the argument.

Things To Come

For everything “The Bells” got wrong it got a lot more right. Fans are going to be fans. They got a mad queen they wanted until they got her. The graphics and effects were almost worth the series perhaps jumping the shark. Fans got the battle between the Clegane brothers they’d been clamoring for all series. The best thing about “The Bells” is you could see everything happening on screen.

We can assume Varys sent some of his letters to the North, Dorne, and maybe some other places who would be inclined to back Jon. Once the word is out it can’t be taken back. Daenerys will face that challenge in the final episode. She’s the only “villain” left in the series. But how do dethrone a queen to establishing a new king in 79 minute episode. It’s going to be difficult to wrap all the threads up. The only thing for sure is there are going to be a lot of unhappy fans come next Sunday.

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Humans and Humanity in Game of Thrones Part One https://www.amindonfire.com/humans-and-humanity-in-game-of-thrones-part-one/ Thu, 09 May 2019 02:18:37 +0000 https://www.amindonfire.com/?p=10138 Characters are either boring or their not.The characters in Game of Thrones are far from boring because they're multidimensional.

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FAN IS SHORT FOR FANATIC

We live  in a pop culture world where stars are made simply by appearing on reality shows or going viral in a YouTube video. It’s a world where fans no longer distinguish between the actor and the character played on television or in a movie. It is highly doubtful Mr. and Mrs. Downey named their son Tony Stark or Mr. and Mrs. Williams named their daughter Arya Stark. Now that most of fandom no longer separates the actor from the role a critique on the character is viewed as an insult against the person.

If we take fandom’s logic to its inevitable conclusion anyone who has ever played Adolf Hitler should be tried for war crimes and anyone who has played Jesus Christ should be canonized a saint. These may be extreme examples and we are in no way suggesting Jim Caviezel should join the ranks of sainthood. However, the examples illustrate the absurdity some fans will go to protect what they feel they have a claim to and to proclaim what they own as a heroic.

CHARACTERS ARE HUMAN TOO(?)

We have become accustom to a certain type of heroic characters who show neither fear nor doubt. Although challenges may be posed to these characters there is never any doubt their goals will be reached. Arya Stark has been set up from the moment we saw her landing bullseyes as the heroic character of Game of Thrones. There are some who will mention her time with the Faceless Men and her journey with the Hound as anything but easy. Though this may be true it was never in doubt she would regain her sight and survive the Hound. Now Arya has been set up as the character who will kill everything in her way.

Young Arya in Davos in Game of Thrones

We enjoy characters like Arya and many fans have embraced her as a fully realized human. “The Long Night” showed most of the characters in the series are indeed imbued with human qualities. They’re filled with doubts and fears. Like humans, very few of the characters have remained static over the past eight seasons. It’s an aspect of the series most people, even the fandom, don’t or won’t discuss.

THE HOUND

For most of the series The Hound has been portrayed as a character who is seriously lacking in morals. He would kill a man over chicken than let him speak another word.  His allegiance at the beginning of the series was to the Lannisters. It may have been an allegiance based on treaties and other political ballyhoo, but his involvement in Ned Stark’s death landed him on Arya’s kill list.

The Hound may have been completely written out the series after his battle with Brienne, but his interactions with Arya made a fan favorite. Even before he kidnapped Arya the harsh exterior he had spent a lifetime building up was being chiseled. More than once he protected Sansa from Joffrey’s vile whims. Perhaps what was left of the old Hound was gone after Brother Ray’s death and when he joined the Brotherhood without Banners.

The Hound faces Beric in Game of Thrones

By the time “The Long Night” aired no one wanted to see the Hound die. Fans who were use to see his hard exterior were treated to a side of the Hound they had never seen. As the hordes of the undead breached Winterfell’s walls the Hound was hiding; The Hound showed fear. It didn’t last and he would go on to save Arya, but for a brief moment the Hound was human.

MELISANDRE

Over the course of the series Melisandre has bounced from one allegiance to another. Mostly at the whim of the Lord of Light. First, she was convinced Stannis Baratheon was the one to get everything done. After he died she turned to Jon Snow. When Jon Snow died she…brought him back to life. Melisandre, to say the least, was a creepy witch women who many fans didn’t like.

In “The Long Night” Melisandre was still creepy with her prophecies and speech to Arya. She even foreshadows her won death to Davos Seaworth. But underneath all that creepiness and cryptic talk was someone who was very much human. When arrows couldn’t light the trench surrounding Winterfell Melisandre stepped up to work her magic fire. When it looked like the trench was going to catch fire it didn’t.

Melisandre feels fear and doubt in Game of Thrones

It wasn’t the ice encased pikes, shown to us in an extreme close up so we could see how much ice, preventing her from lighting the trench surrounding Winterfell. On a normal night she could have lighted the whole ditch without breaking a sweat. The Battle of Winterfell was not a normal night. Fear had crept into the woman who had killed a child and resurrected the dead. She looks to her left, to her right, and sees only the dead all around her. The woman who had killed a child and resurrected the dead was afraid.

SAM TARLY

Even timid and often afraid Sam Tarly stepped up during the Battle of Winterfell. As an audience, we expect heroes like Jamie or Brienne to jump into the fray. A character like Sam Tar on the other hand is expected to stay in the library or in the crypt uttering nonsense like Bran is the memory of man. We don’t expect a character like Sam to be a hero.

Sam in the library in Game of Thrones

During The Battle of Winterfell Sam became a hero. His initial fear may have cost Eddison Tollett his life, but afterwards he was fighting with the rest of the “heroes.” Last Sunday’s “The Last of the Starks” may be the last we see of Sam, but for one brief shining moment he was indeed a member of the Night’s Watch. For the record, we know Sam killed a White Walker but it wasn’t by design. It was basically an accident and he was mortal terror the whole time.

CHARACTERS ARE HUMAN

There’s a disclaimer at the very end of credits stating the viewed work was a work of fiction and any similarity to actual persons living or dead is coincidental. The characters in Game of Thrones are fictitious. You shouldn’t get them confused with actual flesh and blood people living or dead, but a lot of these characters feel human so maybe it’s okay for some people to feel offended when their favorite character is criticized or called out for making a foolish move against another character.

Jamie and Brienne fight in Winterfell in Game of Thrones

An actual clear shot you can see from The Long Night

 

 

 

Come back for Part II (coming soon) as we discuss more characters in Game of Thrones

 

 

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Game Of Thrones Season Eight Episode Four The Last Of The Starks https://www.amindonfire.com/game-of-thrones-last-of-the-starks/ Tue, 07 May 2019 02:21:19 +0000 https://www.amindonfire.com/?p=10157 The Last of the Starks may have set up things to come but it took a long time to get there. Too much time.

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Wasted Time

Jorah, dead. Theon, dead (posthumously awarded the title of Right hand to the Lady Winterfell). Lyanna, dead. Eddison Tollett, dead. A lot of Unsullied, Dothraki, and North Men, all dead. Each one was sent off to the next life on a pyre lighted by a character associated with them. It was a touching moment in “The Last of the Starks” that tried to cram a lot of touching moments into a short period of time before setting the stage for the final battle to come.

Funeral pyres in the Last of the Starks

As I sit here, I’m trying to decide if I liked episode four, “The Last of the Stark” or not. Game of Thrones is notorious for following up a high adrenaline episode like “The Long Night” with a slower paced episode. “The Last of the Starks” was only half of an exception to this rule. Granted the episode clocked in at a respectable 78 minutes, but a lot of the extra time was wasted in order to dedicate time to the aftermath of the Battle of Winterfell.

The Funeral Reception

A funeral isn’t quite complete without the reception. What reception isn’t complete without a little drama? Daenerys recognized Gendry as a Baratheon and then named him lord of Storms’ End. Arya turned down Gendry’s marriage proposal. Jamie and Brienne finally bumped uglies only for Jamie to pull a Jamie and head back to Cersei. Finally, everyone knows Jon is a Taragaryn. Okay, not everyone but the secret will be out before the end of the series.

Varys plots treason in the Last of the Starks

There’s an old saying that goes something like this- The only way to keep a secret between three people is if two of them are dead. Now eight people know Jon Snow isn’t a Stark but a Targaryen. The fact already has Varys plotting treason against Daenerys. It’s a position Tyrion may be drawn into before the final credits roll and a position Daenerys is sure to learn about before it’s all over.

She’s Not Mad, She’s Pissed Off

Let’s say for a moment Varys is killed off before the end of the series. It would only work if it were learned shortly after Sunday’s episode. Fans are saying Daenerys is becoming mad like her father. Fans are using the term “mad” as in crazy or deranged. Daenerys is anything but crazy. She’s mad, but mad as in pissed off. Pissed off people tend not to make the best decisions.

Daenerys furious at Cersei in The Last of the Starks

A new story line of Daenerys learning of Varys treachery may have been something to explore a couple of seasons ago, but with two episodes remaining is there enough time to start new story threads? The series has shown it has no problem cutting out characters with little to no explanation or explaining it away by claiming everything happened off screen (See the very cheap death of Petyr Baelish).

Jamie Lannister Backpedals

Showrunners had plotted out a redemption of Jamie Lannister type story line for the past several seasons. “The Last of the Starks” saw this story line come to an end as Jamie left Winterfell to be with Cersei. How did Jamie learn Daenerys was outside the Red Keep ready to burn it and everything inside to a crisp? Weird things happen when you waste time. Time has no meaning when trying to keep the story moving forward.

Jamie returns to Cersei in The Last of the Starks

The Hound and Arya

By the time the next episode airs Jamie, Jon and company, The Hound, and Arya will all be at King’s Landing. There won’t be a Hound and Arya Road Show like there was in season three. There’s not enough time. The series is going to have to teleport them to King’s Landing in record time. Which also means other things have to happen to get the two characters where they need to be in the final two episodes.

Arya has already been set up to kill everything in her path or at least kill everyone on her list. Ilyn Payne, The Mountain, The Hound, and Cersei are still on Arya’s list. It’s going to take some maneuvering and cheap ploys to line up the four of them for Arya to kill. I don’t doubt showrunners would stoop to cheap tactics to make this happen. However, it would be bad story telling and not the natural course of things. For things to come to a natural conclusion The Hound must face The Mountain. Arya fans will have to settle for whatever kills Arya can manage.

The Hound and Arya ride to King's Landing in The Last of the Starks

The Beginning of the End

“The Last of the Starks” may not have been the worst episode in eight seasons, but given the length of the episode it ranks up there with the worst of them. The episode didn’t even manage to set the stage for the final battle. It’s a battle that has to happen if there is going to be any sort of resolution to the series.

It would have been nice to have seen more time dedicated to setting up things for the last two episodes. For the most part what happened could have been said and done in less than a half an hour. The good byes were touching and full of false sentimentality. We could have done with one or two fewer good byes. Did we need to see Daenerys even more mad at Cersei? And did anyone think Tyrion was going to talk Cersei into doing anything?

Two more episodes, even with an extended run time, isn’t going to be enough to wrap things up. It’s a given no matter the outcome not all the fans will be happy. The possibility of a Jon and Daenerys ruling together is still on the table.

Missandei moments before her death in The Last of the Starks

All men…and women…die

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Game of Thrones Heads Into The Long Night https://www.amindonfire.com/game-of-thrones-heads-into-the-long-night/ Mon, 29 Apr 2019 23:47:14 +0000 https://www.amindonfire.com/?p=10118 Games of Thrones episode three, The Long Night, saw the end of one story line, the deaths of some minor characters, and sets up the series for its final three episodes.

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THE LONG NIGHT

(STOP.SPOILERS AHEAD) Last week’s “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” set up this week’s Game of Thrones episode, “The Long Night,” of epic proportions. Showrunners confirmed Sunday’s Battle of Winterfell was the longest, most elaborate battle ever filmed for television. Director Miguel Sapochnick claimed he studied the Battle of Helm’s Deep (Lord of the Rings trilogy) in depth to create the battle. All those claims may have been true, but it would have been nice to have actually seen the battle.

The difference between The Lord of The Ring‘s Battle of Helm’s Deep and Game of Throne‘s Battle of Winterfell- We could actually see what was going on during the Battle of Helm’s Deep. The battle may have been at night, but that’s no excuse for not letting us actually see the battle. Modern technology has done marvels in regards to filming at night. Cameras don’t actually need real light sources today as they may have needed in the past. A wonderful thing called a computers and digital cameras have revolutionized the way we makes movies at night. If Sapochnick had done an in depth study we would have been able to see most of the battle.

Orcs in battle charge Helm's Deep in The Lord of the Rings

The Battle of Helm’s Deep filmed at night can been seen by the audience

THE BATTLE OF WINTERFELL

Fast moving cameras through a charging army isn’t too much of a battle. Things didn’t improve once the battle moved into Winterfell. There was a lot going on in almost every scene. Unfortunately, a lot of it we couldn’t see. Did Jamie die? Did Brienne? Did Tormund die? They were cornered on the walls of Winterfell surrounded by wights. We can only assume they survived because there wasn’t an isolated scene of their deaths like there were for the other characters who died. The point is we couldn’t see it if it did happen. We hardly saw Eddison Tollet die after saving Sam.

As it was the only time we could see anything if there were fires in the scene. The moments we were fortunate to see incredible. If it weren’t for Beric’s fire sword we wouldn’t have been able to see The Hound carrying Arya to relative safety behind a locked door. We also wouldn’t have been able to see Lyanna Mormont gouge a dead giant’s eye out of its skull. Nor would we have been able to see Jorah Mormont give his life defending Daenerys.

Lyanna dies in the Battle of Winterfell

If there is a medal of honor in the Game of Thrones world Lyanna Mormont deserves two of them.

THE END OF THE NIGHT KING

Thankfully Sapochnick saw fit to shoot the death of the Night King with moonlight flooding the area of surrounding Bran’s tree. Even this scene is problematic. Arya somehow knows the exact time when the Night King will be in the clearing. She also manages to make it there without being slowed down by wights or blocked hallways.

Winterfell was pretty much rubble by the time Arya left Melisandre and the Hound. Wights had overrun the castle and had even breached the crypt. Arya getting to the Night King in time to kill him was a cheat. It didn’t feel like a cheat at the time because it was an awesome sight to see the Night King and his minions crumble. However, it is a stretch of the imagination to have Arya cross the castle with enough time to save Bran and Winterfell.

The Night King is dead and his army of the undead is gone. What does this mean for the coming battle with Cersei? Jon and Daenerys armies are shattered. Showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss weren’t lying when they said 96% of the characters wouldn’t survive the battle. They weren’t specific about the characters. 96% of the characters, give or take,were pulled from the armies- the Dothraki, the Unsullied, and the other armies who answered Jon’s call.

Theon Greyjoy defends Bran during the Battle of Winterfell

A good man

THE BATTLE AHEAD

For all of its cool, what the hell moments in the series, showrunners have kept things pretty much safe and somewhat predictable. Scenes for episode four show random survivors rebuilding Winterfell and Daenerys giving a speech about winning the last battle, but now it’s time to win the final battle. Odds are their army will be just fine heading into battle against Cersei.

Yara Greyjoy and some of her ships are still on their way to the North. Troops from others in the North who did not commit their forces will rally with Jon. It’s even possible some Dothraki and Unsullied make a quick journey to join up with the main army. Considering Varys did it in a few television minutes it’s not out of the realm of possibility for reinforcements to do the same.

Arya ready to go kill the Night King in the Battle of Winterfell

Not today.

Here’s what we are likely to see in the last three episodes. One episode is going to be about Cersei and events unfolding in King’s Landing. The last two episodes will be the battle and then the final crowning of whomever will sit on the throne. Who will be sitting on the throne after the Battle of Winterfell is anyone’s guess. We know it won’t be Sansa because she is comfortable in the North and it won’t Arya because she’ll want to keep killing things. It could very well end up being Daenerys after Jon convinces her he doesn’t want the throne. As mentioned, the show can be quite predictable. It would be quite a shock if any of the main characters other the Cersei, Jamie, and The Hound or The Mountain die in the final battle.

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The Walking Dead Has Made The Full Transition To The Walking Bored https://www.amindonfire.com/the-walking-dead-season-nine-review/ Sat, 27 Apr 2019 16:48:10 +0000 https://www.amindonfire.com/?p=10090 All good things come to an end. This is our last season wrap up, because The Walking Dead has become a chore to watch.

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THE STORY SO FAR:

When we last cared to watch The Walking Dead, Sensei Jesus with Kung Fu grip shuffled off this mortal coil with help of some creeps wearing the dead’s skin . Never Going to Die Negan broke out of jail and was reunited with a Lucille wannabe pipe and whistling his tune.

Flash forward to the second half of season nine, Jesus is still dead (Although there’s a confusing flashback involving a fair and a light bulb and mention of Jesus who Anna and the King of Siam just saw), Negan returns to Alexandria State Prison, and the gang captures a Skinwalker. Maggie is briefly mentioned in a flashback or a flash forward or a scene shoehorned into an already confusing layout (We’re going with the latter) there’s was still no mention of Maggie’s disappearance. I guess the showrunners couldn’t naturally write her off the series without explaining they didn’t want to Lauren Cohan more money.

Negan walks Sanctuary in The Walking Dead season nine

Escapes prison, finds the EXACT SAME jacket in the only store not ransacked during the zombie holocaust.

Some Things Never Change

What hasn’t changed is the same run from the bad guys because we’re too stupid to do anything else. How many times will Scooby and the Gang fall for the “We’re good people” and “Maybe we can talk to them” routine? After eight seasons kill first and ask questions later should have become their mantra. Please, come up with something different to lure characters into trusting obviously un-trustable characters. This series has become a chore to watch.

The last half or season nine was filled to the max with fluff. The New Kids on the Block sneak out of Alexandria to find Fantastic Beasts Luke only to sort of find the Skinwalkers. Mullet Man Eugene over hears Rosita’s speech about being pregnant which starts a whole new story line of who’s Rosita’s baby daddy (Until Negan drops the truth bomb). Henry, Carol and the King’s son but not son, immediately falls in love with Stranger Thing Eleven Look Alike which is the catalyst to start the boring half of season nine.

Carol and the King head to the fair in season nine of The Walking Dead

Anna and the King head to the fair to sing “Shall We Dance.”

IT’S NOT ALL BAD

At least Daryl reminded us during his fight with Beta Max Skinwalker why he’s everyone’s favorite redneck biker. Except a fall down an unfinished elevator shaft wasn’t enough to kill Beta Max. If you and I were to fall down an elevator shaft our days would be over and we’d be coming back as brain munchers. Beta Max, on the other hand, can shake off a knife to the chest and a neck breaking fall. Obvious character return to cause more chaos later is a worn out pattern the series goes to time and time again. Have I mentioned how much of a chore this series has become to watch?

The last half of season nine wasn’t a complete loss. Samantha Morton (Minority Report) is the best thing to happen to The Walking Dead in seasons. You’re missing some excellent performances if you missed her in In America with Paddy Considine or Elizabeth: The Golden Age. As Alpha, she’s crazier than anything Scooby and the Gang have seen in nine seasons.

Samantha Morton plays crazy as a shithouse rat Alpha in season nine of The Walking Dead

Scene cut from Mad Max: Fury Road somehow finds its way into The Walking Dead

YES, IT IS ALL BAD

Alpha may be crazy, but she’s just another version of the villains that have come and gone before. You can change the villain from season to season. You can have him wear an eye patch, carry a bat, or even change the gender but the result is the same- Scooby and the Gang have something the villain wants, the villain tells their people Alexandria is bad, and they should fight Alexandria and all the “bad people.”

We can’t even escape the worn out “everything falls apart” routine. How many seasons are we going to watch everything Scooby and the Gang have be destroyed? In the case of season nine there’s no explanation as to why both the Kingdom and Hilltop collapse. I’m not buying the leaky pipes excuse or death of wannabe Maggie (Tara) for the Hilltop collapsing.

Henry kisses a girl in season nine of The Walking Dead

Henry and Stranger Things Clone Eleven swap spit.

For a brief moment during the last couple episodes of the season it seemed like The Walking Dead turned a corner. It seemed like the series would get back to telling a good story. Except all the flashbacks, flash forwards, characters jumping from one place to another (How did Alpha and the Bets get all their captives in one place at the same time when they all left the Hilltop at different times? Some of the heads on the stake didn’t even leave the Hilltop) bog the series down even deeper into the proverbial mud. This isn’t Lost. Showrunners need to tell a linear story. Leave the flash forwards and backs for other shows.

There were some standout moments in season nine. In the most notable scene Daryl, Michonne, and some other members of the gang fight ice zombies while looking for Judith in a snow storm. A brief flashback to the early days of the Zombie Holocaust showed how some people survived by hiding in a basement. Machine gun fire and screaming can be heard outside with a scream or two added in for good measure.

OLD IS NEW AND WE’RE STUCK WITH IT

By the end of the season we’re back where we started season ago. Scooby and the Gang have nowhere to go. The bad guys are coming to destroy everything and kill everyone. It’s the same cycle we have seen and will continue to see until the series is cancelled.

The problem with a series having no definitive story line or a planned ending is the series tends to wander and repeat a lot of the same story lines. Showrunners for the Game of Thrones, for example, had a story and plotted it out into eight seasons. The Walking Dead seems like it’s going to ramble on until the few remaining fans move onto something else.

AMC  doesn’t seem to mind the falling ratings. The network is all  in and betting sagging ratings won’t keep people from tuning in for more zombies, angst, and recycled plots. Not only has AMC already announced a series of Rick Grimes movies, the network canceled fan favorite Into The Badlands to add yet another spin off series to The Walking Dead universe.

Heads on stakes in a nice even line in season nine of The Walking Dead

Oh, Henry. We hardly knew you. Seriously, we hardly knew you as a character. Why should we care your head landed on a spike?

Can the flagship series survive falling ratings, more zombie spin offs, and more cast members leaving the series? Danai Gurira has already announced she’s leaving the series for the much greener pastures of Disney’s ever expanding cash cow Marvel Universe movies. Gurira’s Billy Badass got old and got old quick. With that being said, most of the remaining cast doesn’t have the talent to keep this show alive and the writers have shown seasons ago they’re out of ideas. Will season ten be carried on the shoulders of Norman Reedus and Jeffrey Dean Morgan?

Pregnant Michonne ready to dish out some capital punishment in season nine of The Walking Dead

In an attempt to explain the change in Michonne the series inserts a flashback of forced proportions.

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Netflix’s Wades Into Quicksand With Its New Drama From Sweden https://www.amindonfire.com/netflix-quicksand-review/ Thu, 25 Apr 2019 02:18:45 +0000 https://www.amindonfire.com/?p=10075 Netflix heads to the land of ABBA for a series about a school shooting and its aftermath. A quick review with very few spoilers.

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Netflix has released a lot of new content in the past few months. Some may see it as a bulwark against Disney Plus ready to be rolled out later this year. A lot of the new content on Netflix comes from other countries besides the USA. Quicksand (Störst av allt) is a recent Netflix original from Sweden. (Almost spoiler free)

Quicksand tries to bring an event all too common to American viewers to a country known more for wooden clogs and ABBA than gun violence. In county that had less than 50 gun related deaths in 2017 and school shootings are almost unheard of the events depicted would be nothing more than shocking.

Sebastian and Maja from Netflix Drama head to class

Quicksand starts immediately after the school shooting. The camera, with a tight focus, scans the classroom floor pooled in blood. Maja, the main character at the center of the story, is sitting on the floor clearly in shock and covered in blood. From there Maja is whisked away to jail where the series really starts. Quicksand tries to be slick, but it doesn’t have the shock or the punch of a movie like We Need to Talk About Kevin, a movie also about a school shooting.

The actual trial in Quicksand is softball lob of a case on par with trials seen on more basic American TV fare like Bull or any of the many Law and Order series. You don’t need to know much, if anything, about Swedish law to know the outcome of the verdict. It’s a foregone conclusion from the very first scenes of Maja in jail. However, this may have been the intent of Malin Persson Giolito who wrote the book.

Maja in court in the Netflix drama Quicksand

If we already know the outcome of the trial before the trial actually occurs than the directors Per-Olav Sorensen and Lisa Farzeneh, can concentrate on the build up to the crime leading to the trial. Right? Well not exactly. Much of the story is told in flashbacks while Maja is in jail awaiting trial. Some American viewers may find the prison system in Sweden quite odd, but it provides ample opportunity for Maja to reflect on what occurred at the school and events leading up to the shooting.

However, the flashbacks don’t reveal as much as we would like or even deserve as a viewer. What is made clear is how Maja is lured into the world of the rich and elite when she starts to date Sebastian. Sebastian’s father is rich, very rich, which is made painfully clear by the super yacht he owns, the large mansion, and the amounts of money he tosses Sebastian to do pretty much whatever he wants to do while ignoring him for much of the series.

Maja and friend head to a party in the Netflix drama Quicksand

The series also does a good job of showing how Maja goes from being a straight A student before meeting Sebastian to skipping school and not caring if she attends classes. We also see Sebastian’s slide into drug and alcohol abuse and his change in behavior. Felix Sandman who plays Sebastian may be the nicest person you would ever care to meet. On screen, he pulls off being a self-centered rich kid to absolute perfection.

The intent of these flashbacks is to try and show if Maja was responsible for the crime she is accused of committing. On this account, the series fails miserably. We’re never really sure how a girl, who for all intents and purposes, seems to be a good person is drawn into committing a violent crime. The one moment of redemption for the series is during the trial. At this point everything Maja said could have been called into question. It could have been a moment of “was she lying or was she telling the truth?” This moment never materialized and we were left with the expected conclusion.

Maja in better times during the new Netflix drama Quicjsand

Quicksand isn’t a total loss. The acting and cinematic quality of the show is its saving grace. If you were wanting to be shocked and awed you’ll have to try something else or watch until the final scene of the series. It’s a moment not expected, but it does little to save a series that doesn’t feel original or fresh.

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Game of Thrones Season Eight Episode 2 A Knight Of The Seven Kingdoms https://www.amindonfire.com/game-of-thrones-season-eight-episode-2-a-knight-of-the-seven-kingdoms/ Mon, 22 Apr 2019 03:58:58 +0000 https://www.amindonfire.com/?p=10060 Let the debate continue: Who will sit on the Iron Throne? We may never know after last week’s premiere episode and the slow pacing of the episode. Like so many episodes before it “Winterfell” dragged along at a snail’s pace. Jon rode a dragon, Euron had sex with Cersei, and Bran stared down Jamie. Jon […]

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Let the debate continue: Who will sit on the Iron Throne? We may never know after last week’s premiere episode and the slow pacing of the episode. Like so many episodes before it “Winterfell” dragged along at a snail’s pace. Jon rode a dragon, Euron had sex with Cersei, and Bran stared down Jamie. Jon learned he was related to the woman he’s currently having sex with whenever they can slip between the animal skins. A lot happened with nothing happening at all, but we could have had all that in five minutes. The clock is running down for anyone to be able to claim the Iron Throne.

“A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” may not have given us any more clues who would be sitting on the Iron Throne when the dust, or in this case snow, settles. In fact, like many episodes that have come before, it was slow and didn’t offer anything new to the question. However, this episode was a little different than those other episodes.

Tormund won't survive to the final episode let alone be anywhere near the Iron Throne

The first feminist of the Seven Kingdoms?

“A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” was homecoming week part two on Game of Thrones. Jamie stands in front of Jon, Sansa, and Daenerys as they judge what should happen to him. Theon Greyjoy returns to fight for Winterfell and is embraced by Sansa. Tormund Giantsbane, Beric, and Eddison Tollet make their way to Winterfell where they’re hugged and greeted by Jon. It was a bittersweet homecoming because each of them knows very well their days may be numbered.

All the battle preparations aside, Sunday’s episode felt like the scene in the war movie where the characters reminiscence about their lives before the final battle scene where they’re all going to die. No one, with one notable exception, was concerned with who was going to sit on the Iron Throne.

 

Podrick may survive to see who sits on the Iron Throne

Who knew Podrick had some voval chops on him

In one single episode we learn more about the characters than we learned in the past seven seasons. Jamie, Tyrion, Brienne, Davos Seaworth, Podrick, and Tormund contemplate their possible deaths over drinks. There are some funny elements to the scenes with a dark cloud hanging over all them. We also learn Podrick has some vocal chops on him. However, we also learn more about Tormund than we probably ever wanted to know. How long is it going to take you to get the image of Tormund suckling on a giant’s teat?

Game of Thrones has flaunted incest for seven seasons. The series can now add under age sex to its resume. When we first meet Arya she’s a child who’s trying to prove she’s just as good as her brother with the bow. It may be difficult to say how much time has passed since the first episode, and without knowing the age of consent in the Seven Kingdoms, its a safe bet Gendry committed statutory rape.

Arya's not concerned with sitting on the Iron Throne

What’s the age of consent in Winterfell?

But for all the feel good moments in the episode the final scene calls everything into question. Jon drops a truth bomb on Danerys. Of course she takes this as Jon wanting the Iron Throne. Jon is saved by the bell before he can say anything one way or the other.

Here’s the sticky issue showrunners can get themselves into: Do they go the sitcom route and have Danerys answer her own question? If this is the case, then there will be a war on three fronts. As Sansa told her in Sunday’s episode the North wants to be ruled by the North. Do the screenwriters come up with a sappy solution and have Jon and Danerys rule the Seven Kingdoms together? Sure, this could happen. It would be cheesy to say the least, but it’s a possibility. The other possibility is nothing happens between Jon and Danerys and they go on to fight both the Night King and Cersei. I’m not even considering the possibility either one of them dying before the final credits role.

Jorah's one goal is to see Daenerys sit on the Iron Throne

Will Jorah Mormont and some Valyrian steel cut through the undead?

We may have to wait for the fourth episode to see the battle against the Night King and his undead army. The end credits make it seem like the battle will be next week, but Game of Thrones has never aired in set pattern. Next Sunday’s episode will be, has to be, centered on Cersei and her new man Euron. Episode five can’t air soon enough.

She doesn't care who sits on the Iron Throne she just wants to protect her home.

The toughest fighter this side of Arya and Lady Mormont.

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Shout Factory Releases The Animated Classic The Plague Dogs https://www.amindonfire.com/shout-factory-releases-the-animated-classic-the-plague-dogs/ Sat, 13 Apr 2019 22:19:36 +0000 https://www.amindonfire.com/?p=9908 Shout Factory recently released the animated classic The Plague Dogs so we watched it, reviewed it, and put some words together for you to read and enjoy.

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We hear it all the time: Blu-ray and DVD are on their way out. In the past people would ask, “You still own a VCR?” Now we hear people asking, “You still own a Blu-ray player?” Is the DVD/Blu-ray going the way of the VHS tape? Will Blu-ray players start collecting dust in closets? Will Blu-rays find themselves ranked among curiosities like beta max and laser discs? Personally, I think the death of the Blu-ray player and Blu-rays/DVDs in general are a little premature. There’s a vast community out there who still consume physical media. Who can blame us with releases like Shout Factory’s The Plague Dogs?

THE PLAGUE DOGS

THE MOVIE: Martin Rosen produced two classic animated movies. Criterion Collection released a great edition of Watership Down some years ago. Rosen’s second classic was The Plague Dogs. After too long of a wait a new edition of The Plague Dogs has been released by Shout Factory.

The Plague Dogs is not a kids movie. It’s a dark movie dealing with dark subject matter. Snitter, voiced by the late, great John Hurt, and Rowf are dogs who escape from an animal testing facility. Our first introduction to Rowf is the sounds him drowning so scientists can study the results. Snitter’s  brain was scrambled in the scientist’s tests.

The two dogs escape the testing facility and make their way to the nearby town. Snitter and Rowf do their best living on their own outside the testing facility, but have to turn to killing the local farmers’ livestock for survival. The killings bring them unwanted attention and certain doom until the pair meet a fox named the Tod. The Tod is wise in the ways of the humans.

Scientists perform experiments on Rowf in The Plague Dogs

There are a few human characters represented in The Plague Dogs. The scientists are seen only from an above shot. The friendly man with the shotgun trying to get Snitter to come to him is accidentally shot in the face. The Tod causes bounty hunter who’s hunting the dogs to fall to his death. Hungry with no source of food on the horizon, Snitter and Rowf eat the bounty hunter. It’s not a kids movie.

It’s mainly through the human voice overs we learn the extent of the experiments conducted on the dogs. When the scientists and media aren’t telling us what occurred at the lab we see Snitter and Rowf’s flashbacks to their experiments and previous lives. The dogs are damaged mentally and physically. For an animated movie the scenes of Rowf being tested on and the affects of the brain surgery on Snitter are disturbing to watch. The cut scenes to monkey test subjects don’t help. We also learn the dogs may have the plague hence the title of the movie.

Snitter, Rowf, and the Tod in the animated classic The Plague Dogs

SPECIAL FEATURES: Theatrical cut or extended cut? Such questions can’t be asked of a digital download. More often than not you buy one or the other. Sometimes, for more money of course,you can get both. This is usually not the case. Whether an extended cut or a director’s cut is superior to the theatrical release of a movie is a question for another time. What’s not in question is Shout Factory’s issue of The Plague Dogs has both the theatrical and extended cuts of the movie.

The extended cut was scanned in 2K from original film. You can tell the difference between the Shout Factory edition and previous releases. The picture in other editions have been grainy. The copy you can stream through Amazon Prime is passable at best. The animation in the new 2K scan is as crisp and clear as a forty year old film can be. The sound quality has also been greatly improved.

Inside The Plague Dogs an animation classic

The only other special feature on the disc is a new interview with producer Martin Rosen. It’s a short interview, but we get to learn a little background on the production, success, and failure of The Plague Dogs. We also learn Rosen fired Brad Bird (The Incredible, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol) from the animation team.

PACKAGING: There’s not too much to say about the packaging. It’s your basic Blu-ray package with art from the movie poster on the cover.

Snitter and Rowf swim for a non existent island

FINAL VERDICT: The Plague Dogs may not have been successful when it was originally released. However, it has gone on to become an animation classic. Animation fans and fans of classic movies will love this new edition. It’s worth every penny.

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Best of the Western in 2018 https://www.amindonfire.com/best-of-the-western-in-2018/ Thu, 04 Apr 2019 02:26:00 +0000 https://www.amindonfire.com/?p=9945 The Western Past It wasn’t long after Thomas Edison’s Kinetoscope and the Lumiere Brothers’s Cinemtographe projected the first moving images onto a screen audiences were being entertained by the Western. The Western genre took off during the Classic Hollywood era (1915-1935). Roughly 1800 feature Western films were made. John Ford’s 1939 classic Stagecoach, and Raoul Walsh’s […]

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The Western Past

It wasn’t long after Thomas Edison’s Kinetoscope and the Lumiere Brothers’s Cinemtographe projected the first moving images onto a screen audiences were being entertained by the Western.

The Great Train Robbery (1903) was an early Western, but the theme would be carried all the way to the 21st Century.

Edwin S. Porter’s silent Western The Great Train Robbery (1903) was one of the first movies to use editing to piece a movie together to tell a story.

The Western genre took off during the Classic Hollywood era (1915-1935). Roughly 1800 feature Western films were made. John Ford’s 1939 classic Stagecoach, and Raoul Walsh’s The Big Trail (1930) Cecil B. DeMille’s The Plainsman (1936), and The Arizonian (1935) thrilled audiences with their straight good guys wear white hats, bad guys wear black hats stories.

The Dark Command, a fictionalized Western retelling the Lawrence, KS massacre.

Raoul Walsh’s The Dark Command was a fictionalized retelling of the Lawrence, Kansas massacre. It’s a much lighter version than actual events.

The number of Westerns decreased in the coming years and decades. However, during the years of 1940 to 1970 the Western genre was in full bloom. These years I refer to as the Golden Age of the Hollywood Western because the decades saw the release of a multitude of classic Western movies.

The 1940’s saw the releases of classics like My Darling Clementine and Angel and the Badman. The 1950’s saw the release of classic Westerns like High Noon (1952), Shane (1953), John Ford’s epic The Searchers (1956) and Howard Hawk’s Rio Bravo (1959). The 1960’s gave us the violent The Wild Bunch and the Paul Newman/Robert Redford team of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The 1970s had classics like The Outlaw Josey Wales and McCabe and Mrs. Miller.

Seven Samurai got the Western treatment in 1960 with the release of The Magnificent Seven.

Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai got the Western treatment in 1960.

The 1980’s saw a serious decline in the number of Westerns released, but the quality of good Western movies was still present. The world discovered Kevin Costner in Silverado. Some members of the Brat Pack turned the Western into pop culture with Young Guns and Clint Eastwood was back in the role of shadowy figure with no past in Pale Rider.

Tom Horn Steve McQueen's last Western

Steve McQueen was dying while filming Tom Horn. It would be one his last movies made.

When it seemed Hollywood had stopped making Westerns two Westerns in the 90’s, Kevin Costner’s Dances with Wolves (1990) and Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven (1992), won Best Picture and Best Director Oscars. Dances with Wolves won seven Academy Awards. Gene Hackman won his second Oscar for the role of Little Bill Daggett.

Tombstone helped keep the Western movie alive during the 90's.

Two movies about Wyatt Earp were released months apart. Both excellent movies, but Tombstone was the flashier of the two.

The past twenty plus years has seen a serious decline in the number of Westerns made. Audiences don’t turn out for the Western like they once did. However, this does not mean the Western is no longer made. Quality has replaced quantity. The Western hasn’t disappeared in the 21st Century its been transformed. In 2018, directors and screenwriters showed there was still life in the Western.

WOMAN WALKS AHEAD

Woman Walks Ahead is the story of Catherine Weldon who travels to the Standing Rock Reservation to paint a portrait of Sitting Bull. While on her mission to paint Sitting Bull she runs afoul of Silas Groves and James McLaughlin. Groves has been dispatched by the US Army to facilitate a treaty between the Army and the Sioux. Basically, Groves and the military want to seize more of the Sioux’s land.

Woman Walks Ahead a Western without the traditional gunfights and show downs,

Sam Rockwell delivers a powerful performance in Woman Walks Ahead. But Jessica Chastain gives as good as she gets.

It’s a beautifully shot film. In Woman Walks Ahead, Cinematographer Mike Eley has captured the West not what it looks like now, but what it may have looked like at the time the movie is set. At times, the mountains and the plains seem to almost crowd scenes and become characters themselves. Although not nominated for an Oscar Eley’s shots were some of the best in 2018.

As usual, Sam Rockwell as Silas Groves turns in another great performance. If he’s not careful though he may become typecast as the go to actor when a movie calls for a racist or bigot. Jessica Chastain, for her part, does well as the character of Catherine Weldon. Most actors would be tempted to play Weldon as over the top and to highlight pro-feminist aspects of the character. Chastain does neither. Instead, she lets the character speak for herself.

Woman Walks Ahead A Western without the gun smoke

For a moment Woman Walks Ahead could have been a movie about Native Americans and Catherine Weldon. Instead, Native Americans take a backseat in their own movie.

Unfortunately, Women Walks Ahead gets caught up in its own beauty and becomes basically another white people, or in this case a white woman, save a people of color. It’s The Help of the 19th Century. The movie could have been more and said more than to promote the fallacy that white people are the only people who can save the oppressed. It’s a notion that hearkens back to the old Westerns where Native Americans were only seen as scalp hunters.

HOSTILES

Hostiles came out in early 2o18, January 26th to be precise, to much critical acclaim and Oscar buzz. Critics couldn’t help but to compare it with another movie about a soldier who heads out west, Dances with Wolves. One reviewer said it was “A landmark experience not soon forgotten.” To say audiences forgot about Hostiles would mean audiences knew about the film to forget. The Academy, whose memory only goes back a few months before the Oscar ceremony, never gave it a second glance.

Wes Studi, Christian Bale, and Rosamund Pike star in Hostiles

The character of Rosalee Quaid could have easily been a stock character hating Chief Yellow Hawk. However, she’s dynamic character who goes through many changes in the movie never showing hatred toward Yellow Hawk of his family.

Hostiles, however, is no Dances with Wolves nor does it try. Captain Joseph Blocker (Christian Bale) is ordered to escort Chief Yellow Hawk and his family Valley of the Bears, Montana. A veteran of the US/Indian Wars, Blocker wants nothing to do with the assignment. However, he’s given the choice between escorting the family back to their home or losing his pension. It’s not much of a choice.

Wes Studi, Adam Beach, and Q'orianka Kilcher in Hostiles.

Native American actors still haven’t “broken through” in Hollywood. Many are still only cast as chiefs and warriors. Hostiles, at least, discarded the scalp hunter and noble savage Hollywood forced upon American audiences.

Hostile is defined by Webster Dictionary as “of or relating to an enemy” and “having an intimidating, antagonistic, or offensive nature.” Everything in Hostiles is hostile. From the moment Blocker, Thomas Mertz (an excellent performace by Rory Chochrane) and a select few soldiers leave on their journey they are met by all kinds of hostility.Always in the background is Blocker’s own hostile past.

Ultimately, Hostiles asks “Who is the hostile?”

A RECKONING/ANY BULLET WILL DO

Indie director Justin Lee had a good 2018. The director released not one but two Westerns in 2018. An independent director releasing one movie in a year is an accomplishment, but releasing two is almost a miracle. Lee’s two Westerns range from good to best left unwatched.

A Reckoning, set in Oregon, and Any Bullet Will Do, set in Montana, are two movies asking the same question with different results. In A Reckoning, Mary O’Malley goes after the man who killed her husband. In Any Bullet Will Do, bounty hunter Hollis Ransom hunts down his brother who killed his wife.

A Reckoning takes place as far West as a Western could

A Reckoning takes the Western to it the furthest limits of the West- The Pacific Coast.

Both movies ask “Are you capable of killing a man?” and “what will revenge do to a person?” A Reckoning answers the question quite nicely. The answer is given the right circumstance most people are capable of killing someone, but not with the feel good afterglow you thought it would give. Along the way there are some great shots caught on film and a few performances worth watching and some that are cringe worthy at best. In Any Bullet Will Do the question is asked but the answer comes from out of left field and isn’t supported with anything that happens in the movie.

Between Lee’s two movies A Reckoning is the better one to watch. Even some of the bad performances (The award goes to Todd Robinson as Jebediah Thorne) don’t detract from the overall movie as it does in Any Bullet Will Do. Any Bullet Will Do is riddled with cardboard performances. Adding insult to injury, screenwriter Justin Lee has his characters saying things he thinks people may have said in the 1800’s. “Slow as molasses,” “Sam Hell,” “dimly lit lanter,” “balls bigger than eagle’s eggs,” and “done cheated the Grim Reaper” are only a few cringe worthy lines throughout the movie.

Watch A Reckoning and leave Any Bullet Will Do alone.

THE SISTERS BROTHERS

The Sisters Brothers is one of the best Westerns to come out in the 21st Century. You may think that’s not saying much because there haven’t been many Westerns released since 2000. Let me remind you John Hillcoat’s The Proposition, Andrew Dominik’s  The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward James Ford, The Coen Brothers’s True Grit, John Maclean’s Slow West, S. Craig Zahler’s Bone Tomahawk, and Kelly Reichardt’s Meek’s Cutoff, to name a few, have all come out this century. Yes, The Sisters Brothers is in good company.

The Sisters Brothers Western The Searchers for the 21st Century

Joaquin Phoenix never fails to deliver. As Charlie Sister he turns in one of his best performances to date.
John C. Reilly’s Ely is a character under pressure. Reilly keeps it simmering until the end when it’s time for him to explode.

Joaquin Phoenix and John C. Reilly play Charlie and Eli Sisters, the Sisters Brothers. They’re hired killers for the Commodore, played by Rutger Hauer in a blink and you’ve missed him role. Their reputation as cold-blooded killers precedes them wherever they go. It’s a reputation Charlie likes because it usually means free booze and women. Eli, on the other hand, has become dissatisfied with the life of a hired killer.

Jake Gyllenhaal and Riz Ahmed round out the phenomenal cast. John Morris, Gyllenhaal, is a scout for the Commodore. He finds the men who the Commodore feels have slighted him in some way. Morris finds these people and the Sisters Brothers do the killing. Herman Warm, Ahmed, is one such man who the Commodore thinks has done him wrong. The wrong in this case is not sharing Warm’s formula for detecting gold in rivers.

The Sisters Brothers A Western about more than searching for gold

The West was a hodgepodge of nationalities seeking their fortune. Riz Ahmed’s Warm is a natural fit in the story,

This time Morris doesn’t turn the hunted man over to the Sisters Brothers. Morris and Warm become friends who bond over the lure of gold and Warm’s talk of a Utopian, almost communist, community in Texas. Warm also wins the brothers over. Against their better judgement the brothers don’t kill either Warm or Morris. Instead, they join them on finding gold and wanting a better place to exist.

The ending isn’t your typical Western ending. There are no shootouts or last stands being made. It’s more of an ending one would see in The Searchers than Unforgiven. Through0ut the movie Charlie and Ely were at odds with each other. The ending, a seamless edit showing the passage of time from room to room in their mother’s small farm house, says everything will be okay with the brothers.

DAMSEL

Damsel, directed by David and Nathan Zellner, is a Western by way of Wes Anderson and the Coen Brothers (Yes, we know they’re on this list with another movie). It’s a quirky movie that starts out with Robert Forester stripping himself of his pastor clothes and throwing them to Henry (played by director David Zellner) who goes on to impersonate a parson. Things get weird from the moment Robert Forester disappears wearing nothing but his union suit.

Damsel the anti-Western

Where did Alabster come from in his rowboat? Where did he get Butterscotch?

Parson Henry, the fake parson, is hired by Samuel Alabaster (Robert Pattinson) to officiate his marriage to his one true love, Penelope. Penelope (Mia Wasikowska, Crimson Peak), Alabaster would have Henry believe, was kidnapped by Anton Cornell. To say Alabaster is deluded is putting things mildly, but love can do that to a person.

Damsel is a far departure from David Zellner’s incredible Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter (It’s a must see for fans of the Coen Brother’s Fargo). Kumiko moves from Japan to North Dakota. While on her road trip Kumiko meets a variety of people who aid her on her quest. Damsel is much tighter movie. There are few location changes and even fewer characters than Kumiko.

Damsel a Western about more than a miniature pony.

Where is Penelope going in her rowboat? What will she do with Butterscotch?

The movie’s success depends on the characters and the actors. Pattinson, Wasikowska, and Zellner deliver characters that could have stepped out of a Wes Anderson movie. They’re unusual characters, but are fitting for a Western not cut from the same cloth as most Westerns.

THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS

The Coen Brothers have managed to encapsulate every Hollywood notion of the West we’ve become to believe is true. The singing cowboy, the lynching, the traveling show, the gold seeker, the wagon train, and the bounty hunter are all represented in The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. Of course they put the Coen Brothers mark on every vignette.

Clancy Brown in The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

In what would be a serious moment in any other movie is played for laughs. Maybe it’s the song, maybe it’s how he dies.

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs could have easily been called Death in Six Installments. From the comedic (“Buster Scruggs,” “Near Algodones”) to the tragic (“The Gal Who Got Rattled,” “Meal Ticket”) to the supernatural (“The Mortal Remains”) death is the connecting theme between all of the stories.

The stagecoach never stops in The Mortal Remains from The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

It may be named after the dead body strapped to the top of the stagecoach, but the real reason is everyone in the stagecoach is dead being driven to the afterlife.

The temptation with any anthology is to rank and/or review every vignette in the movie. To do so with BoBS would be to diminish each installment because each installment is a small masterpiece of its own. How do you argue Tim Blake Nelson causing Clancy Brown’s suicide is better than Liam Neeson’s role in “Meal Ticket?” You honestly can’t.

Tom Waits pans for gold in The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Tom Waits is a character. It’s amazing The Coen Brothers had never cast him in role before now.

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I Think We’re Alone Now The Review https://www.amindonfire.com/i-think-were-alone-now-movie-review/ Fri, 08 Mar 2019 03:23:51 +0000 https://www.amindonfire.com/?p=9910 No explosions. No zombies. No fighting over resources. I Think We're Alone Now is more than these tropes put together.

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T.S. Elliot wrote the world will end not with a bang but with a whimper. For much of its history, whether in Things to Come (1936) or Netflix’s recent How it Ends, Hollywood has depicted the end not as a whimper but as a bang. Elliot would be proud of Reed Morano’s I Think We’re Alone Now.

I Think We’re Alone Now, Morano’s second full length movie as a director, is an apocalyptic movie without the Apocalypse. There are no groups of survivors fighting zombies or marauders roaming the wasteland in cobbled together vehicles fighting for oil. Morano isn’t interested in any of these things. When Del (Peter Dinklage) is asked what may have caused the death of most of Earth’s population he answers “Who cares?” Morano for one does not care.

I Think We’re Alone Now is more about isolation, loneliness, and learning to accept others than any unnamed exterior event. The end result is more important than the events leading up to Del’s isolation from the rest of the world. Del, and the viewer, assumes he’s the last person on earth. His days consist of cleaning houses, searching for batteries, burying the dead, fishing, and keeping the library in working order.

Del’s world is ordered and tidy. It may seem like he could on this way until his final days. However, Del’s finely crafted charade starts to crumble when Grace (Elle Fanning) literally crashes into his life. Grace is an extrovert of chaotic proportions compared to Del’s introvert mentality. His strong man facade breaks down the more Grace is around.

Del wants it to seem he was alone but not lonely. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Del was alone, isolated, even before the unnamed event occurred. Grace asks him where he was when everyone died. He was sleeping while she was “with a boy.” Del had nothing to lose while Grace had everything to lose.

Just when you have become comfortable with the idea of a movie about the end of the world having more to do with loneliness and learning to trust someone the film sets things on its head. Grace’s “parents”, Patrick and Violet, (Paul Giamatti, Charlotte Gainsbororgh) arrive unannounced at Del’s house. There’s no explanation how Grace’s “parents” found her. There’s also no reason why it should be explained. It’s enough just to know they found her.

Del feels betrayed Grace didn’t tell her she had parents or even that there were other people left in the world. There’s more to these parents than meets the eye. We know what happened to her real parents. Her real parents died along with thousands of other people. Grace, pleading with Del to let her stay, says “They paired me up” with them. Even more odd Patrick talks to Del about the great things “top surgeons are doing” doing in California.

The dystopian world Patrick is talking about wipes emotions from people. In Patrick’s perfect California town people don’t remember the past nor do they remember the pain of losing family and friends. They have no emotions. People are jogging, playing, and gardening. Things are bright and shiny compared to the overcast skies of Del’s town. The catch is they don’t feel a thing. It’s more of a sham than Del wanting to be alone.

I Think We’re Alone Now was a small movie in 2018. The cast consists of four people and a handful of extras. Yet with powerful performances by Dinklage, Fanning, Giamatti, and Gainsbororgh it feels like a big movie. If  you’re looking for explosions and end of the world madness check out Mad Max: Fury Road. You won’t find those things in I Think We’re Alone Now. What you will find is a movie about loss, love, grief, and two finding themselves at the end of the world.

A+

 

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The Horror of Suspiria Is Now on Blu-Ray https://www.amindonfire.com/suspiria-remake-blu-ray/ Fri, 15 Feb 2019 01:57:14 +0000 https://www.amindonfire.com/?p=9849 Can't wait for Amazon to stream Suspiria for free on Prime? No worries. The movie has recently been released on Blu-ray.

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I live in a mid-size city. There’s a university located here with a football team that has seen better days. Five minutes away is a major government facility with thousands of employees. There’s five movie theaters and two more about a thirty minute drive from the center of downtown. With all this you would think there would be a market for movies without superheroes, robots turning into VWs, or fish men. Unfortunately, if a movie doesn’t have a budget in the high hundreds of millions of dollars it’s not going to show in my mid-size city. Such is the case with Suspiria. It never played here. Fortunately for those of us left out of being able to see it in a theater Suspiria is now available on Blu-ray.

Other reviews are inevitably going to compare Luca Guadagino’s (Call Me By Your Name) remake to Dario Argento’s original 1977 movie. Reviewers may even tell you to watch the original before you see the remake. I’m here to tell you you don’t have to see the original Suspiria to enjoy, or even dislike, the remake.

Patricia acting crazy in Suspiria

Usually watching Dakota Johnson in anything is about as interesting as watching paint peel off a wall. It’s difficult to tell when she’s happy, sad, or angry. If you’ve had the displeasure of watching any of the Fifty Shades movies you will know it’s difficult to even tell when she’s excited or turned on. It’s without a doubt her range as actress is very limited. However, when your parents are Don Johnson and Melanie Griffin you get a few more breaks other actors may not get.

Suspiria hinges on Johnson’s Susie Bannion. Susie is an Amish girl who has run away from an abusive home to live her dream as a dancer in the famous Madame Markos dance studio in Berlin. Johnson shows as much excitement at being accepted into the school as she does at the realization she is becoming Mater Suspiriorum, the Mother of Sighs. Being turned into a witch without any qualms is creepy enough, but watching your teachers being blown apart by Death with no more emotion than one would have paying monthly bills is even creepier.

The supporting witches in Suspiria

Fortunately for Suspiria and the viewer Johnson is surrounded by a great cast and great director. Tilda Swinton (We Need to Talk About Kevin) plays not one role in the movie but three distinct roles. As Madame Blanc she grooms Susie for the forthcoming feeding to Madame Markos. Swinton plays the role as a caring mother figure who is preparing Susie for her inevitable death. Swinton is unrecognizable as Madame Markos, the mad witch who needs to feed from Susie. However, it’s as Dr. Klemperer, a man, where Swinton excels.

Dr. Klemperer, a psychologist, is sucked into the madness at the dance academy by Patricia, a student at the academy. Patricia spells out everything that is going on in the school at the beginning of the movie. Klemperer isn’t a believer in Patricia’s crazy ramblings, but the viewer is told every crazy thing that will happen during the movie.

Tilda Swinton as Dr. Klemperer in Suspiria

However, Klemperer becomes a believer. When he does become a believer he enlists the help of Sara (Mia Goth, A Cure for Wellness) to find the missing Patricia. It’s at this point Klemperer reveals to Sara and the viewer the story of the Three Mothers and the diabolical plans at the academy. It’s the basis of the rest of the film.

Suspiria may not be for everyone and not for all horror movie fans. It’s slow and at times drags its feet before making a point. We get plenty of scenes of students practicing a famous piece originally choreographed by Madame Blanc. It’s a snooze fest until the dance is used to literally twist and break Olga, a dancer who wants to leave the academy, into a pretzel.

The entire plot of Suspiria revealed in one journal entry

The Three Mothers

It’s no secret the dance academy is a coven of witches using the dancers for their bodies and souls. We’re told as much from the start of the movie. Again, we get a lot of dance instructions and some of the witches act very strange. In one scene two witches hypnotize detectives looking into Patricia’s disappearance. The witches play and tease the detectives nether regions.

In one particular scene a vote is held for who will lead the witches. The “election” is won by Madame Markos. It’s almost forgotten about until later in the movie when Madame Markos wants to summon the Mother of Sighs through Susie. Susie becomes a pawn between the two witches until she accepts her fate and becomes one of the Three Mothers. She then summons death who rips apart the witches and dancers who sided with Markos in the vote.

Overall, Suspiria is worth your time to watch. Like many movies it has its high and lows. If you like a mix of psychological, supernatural, and gory horror movies then you’ll like Suspiria. However, the slow pace of the movie may turn off fans. Suspiria is an Amazon Studios movie. So, if you’re on the fence wait until it starts streaming on Amazon Prime for free.

Dakota Johnson shows off her vagina chest in Suspiria

Yes, she has a vagina chest.

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The Directors: The Films Of David Fincher Part 3 https://www.amindonfire.com/the-directors-the-films-of-david-fincher-part-3/ Wed, 06 Feb 2019 01:50:45 +0000 https://www.amindonfire.com/?p=9823 Finally. Part 3 of our 3 part look at the movies of David Fincher.

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With season two of David Fincher’s Mindhunter right around the corner it’s time we got back to our review of David Fincher’s filmography. Please enjoy Part III of our director series on David Fincher.

THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO

Fincher’s Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was received with some criticism from fans of Niels Arden Oplev’s original Swedish version. As often in the case of a foreign movie remade by Hollywood critics complained there was no reason for a remake and Hollywood could never do justice to the original movie. Even the director of the Swedish version got in on the complaints. Fincher’s adaptation of the novel proved all the critics wrong.

Opening credit shot of David Fincher's Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Across the board the acting in Dragon Tattoo is top notch. Fincher always manages to get performances from actors other directors may not be able to get. The only criticism of the movie is how Mikael (Daniel Craig) and Lisbeth (Rooney Mara) discover the true identity of the killer. In the Swedish version photos of Martin Vanger wearing the same sweater are used to link him to the murders. In Fincher’s version the photos have remained but Vanger (Stellan Skarsgard) is now wearing a prep school jacket.

Lisbeth and Mikael search for a killer in David Fincher's Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Whether it was a sweater or a jacket the discovery of the killer’s identity is a cheat. Ninety percent of the movie was well plotted with a real murder mystery at the center of the story. It’s all blown with the final scenes of Vanger torturing Mikael and Salander killing Vanger in a car-motorcycle chase. It’s a typical ending for a movie that was otherwise not typical. As with Gone Girl Fincher was working from the source novel. Can the director be blamed for how bad the novel was written?

Lisbeth doing research in David Fincher's Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

FIGHT CLUB

David Fincher has made a few books into movies. Some have failed like Gone Girl and others have been near hits like Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. When the source material is from author Chuck Palahniuk the results are spectacular.

Brad Pitt in David Fincher's Fight CLub

Palahniuk is not your typical author. His prose can be jaunting and sometimes scattered. He challenges his readers to read between the lines and fill in the gaps left intentionally for readers to find. He’s not a safe author like Gillian Flynn or Stieg Larrson. A writer like Palahniuk deserved a director like Fincher to bring the madness of Fight Club to the big screen.

Final scene in David Fincher's Fight Club

Fight Club was in danger of becoming a parody of itself. A box office bomb upon release it became a hit on DVD. There was a time when everyone was telling people the first rule of Fight Club or saying ” I am Jack’s (add your own thing here).” Now twenty years later away and a million miles away from the initial hoopla Fight Club can take its place as one of Fincher’s best movies.

SEVEN

John Doe leading Mills and Somersett in David Fincher's Seven

Two detectives, complete opposites of each other, are partnered together to catch a serial killer terrorizing a city. It sounds like a lot of movies that have come out since Seven‘s 1995 original release. Except in the hands of David Fincher the stereotypical buddy cop movie is turned on its head and the result is a classic, neo-noir crime thriller countless of movies have tried to mimic.

Seven is as dark a movie as they come. Set not only in a city with no name, but a city where the sun never shines and it’s constantly raining. The city’s constant bad weather mirrors the dark deeds going on in the movie. The darker the deed the harder it rains. The detectives are caught in a down pour during the discovery and investigation of the Gluttony victim. In calmer scenes, like dinner at the Mills’s apartment, a mere drizzle coats the windows. Interestingly enough the rain starts to lift as the movie draws to a close. By the time Mills and Somerset reach the outside of the city with John Doe it’s practically a beautiful summer day. Perhaps a new day has dawned in the city.

What's in the box? David FIncher Seven

ZODIAC

Some people may disagree with the opinion that Zodiac is Fincher’s best movie to date. It doesn’t have the fable like feel Benjamin Button has nor the run time. It’s not an edge of your seat action movie like Panic Room. Unlike movies like Dragon Tattoo and a host of other who dunnit movies there’s no cheap “ah-ha” moment. Neither David Toschi (Mark Ruffalo) or William Armstrong (Anthony Edwards) stumble across a clue they missed earlier in the movie that ultimately solves the case.

Mark Ruffalo in David FIncher's Zodiac

Zodiac has no clean ending. There is no happy ending before the credits roll. We are only told the killings stopped after Arthur Leigh Allen, played by the great character actor John Carroll Lynch (Fargo, The Founder) died. It’s not the ending fans of this type of movie have come to expect. The movie is not wrapped up with a bow on the top. As an audience we have been trained to want to see the killer or killers caught and punished.

No one except for the people sucked into the Zodiac investigation is punished. Punish may be too strong of a word. However, no one escapes unscathed. Even Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal) whose book the movie is based on is affected by the investigation.

Is this the face of the Zodiac Killer? No, it's John Carrol Lynch in David Fincher's Zodiac

At times Zodiac feels like a documentary. It’s logical in its progression from the first memorable scene to the end credits. Logical, but not boring. There are enough twists and turns to keep the audience engaged. It’s the same documentary feel coursing through Mindhunter. In fact, Zodiac can be seen as a spiritual predecessor to Mindhunter.

Trying to break the code in David Fincher's Seven

 

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Shout Factory Releases Saturday The 14th On Blu Ray https://www.amindonfire.com/shout-factory-releases-saturday-the-14th-on-blu-ray/ Wed, 23 Jan 2019 03:15:19 +0000 https://www.amindonfire.com/?p=9800 The low budget 80's classic Saturday the 14th was finally released on Blu-ray by Scream Factory. We tore into the disc to see what it was all about.

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Physical Media vs. Streaming

It’s no secret, we like our physical media. Blu-ray and DVD sales have taken a hit as more people sign on for various streaming services. There is nothing wrong with streaming services like Netflix. We love Netflix. You can’t argue, even after the recent price increase, Netflix’s isn’t an incredible value.

Streaming is great, but it has its limitations. The biggest limitation is if the movie you want to watch isn’t available on any streaming service. Fine, you say, I’ll watch something else. Of course, this is an option. But if you’re in the mood to watch a particular movie than that’s the movie you should be watching. You could be watching that particular movie right now if you had it on Blu-ray or DVD.

Let’s say the movie you want to watch is streaming on a service. Hey, that’s great. Press play, sit back, and watch. Odds are if it’s a recent movie the stream quality will be good. Older movies don’t always fare as well as newer releases. Often there’s no time or care given to the movie before is uploaded for streaming. It’s no better than watching it on video tape. Case in point: Saturday the 14th.

Saturday the 14th

For a long time if you could find a copy of Saturday the 14th it was on video tape. It was possible to find it on DVD, but the video quality wasn’t much better than a video tape. Scream Factory, Shout Factory’s horror division, has seen fit to remedy this problem with its recent Blu-ray release. It’s about time too.

The Movie:

For the uninitiated, Saturday the 14th is a low-budget, comedy, horror movie about a family who inherits a cursed house from a dead uncle. Richard Benjamin (Westworld) plays the clueless father. Paula Prentiss, who has recently been in the Netflix Original I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House, is the mother who is being turned into a vampire.

Richard Benjamin and Paula Prentiss in Saturday the 14th

Jeffrey Tambor (Transparent, Arrested Development), in an early role, is Waldemar. Waldemar, a hundreds of year old vampire, and his wife Yolanda are trying to find the Book of Evil before Van Helsing (Severn Darden). Hilarity ensues after Billy, the son, opens the Book of Evil. Alright, hilarity may be a strong word.

Don’t get too excited. These monsters won’t send chills down anyone’s spine. These beasts and monsters are the rubber and foam kind low budget movies like the Cormans make are famous for. Except the foam and rubber monsters work wonderfully in this campy movie.

Jeffrey Tambor as a vampire in Saturday the 14th

To be sure, Saturday the 14th is a campy movie. The special effects are typical 80’s special effects. Some of the situations are cheesy and more than one line in the movie is more than corny. It’s a fun movie because of the camp and cheese not in spite of it. Saturday the 14th can even be called a family movie.

The Packaging:

The packaging is nothing special. It’s your basic blue case with insert art, but the inside with the various monsters from the movie is a pretty nice touch.

Special Features:

The special features on the disc are bare bones. It’s to be expected. The market for an 80’s comedy, horror movie is small. Any new special features would cost money which in turn would drive up the price of the disc. There would be no guarantee there would be a return on the investment.

Inside cover of Saturday the 14th

The interview with producer Julie Corman is the only new special feature. It’s a short interview about the making of the movie. The most interesting thing we learn is Paula Prentiss refused to wear fangs. A lack of fangs actually fits quite well into the low budget, corny movie’s over all feel.

Final Verdict:

Saturday the 14th is worth the price of purchase. It may not have the special features we would expect from a boutique company like Shout Factory, but having a quality print of the movie makes up for everything this Blu-ray lacks. Scream Factory did a good job restoring the movie to an HD quality viewing experience. Some scenes degrade back to a grainy, VHS quality, but overall the picture is crystal clear.

Crytpic writing in Saturday the 14th

 

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The Mid Season Nine Walking Dead Review and Wrap Up https://www.amindonfire.com/mid-season-nine-walking-dead-review-wrap-up/ Sun, 20 Jan 2019 17:40:35 +0000 https://www.amindonfire.com/?p=9761 Season Nine of the Walking Dead returns in February. So we had to see how bad the rot in AMC's once powerful juggernaut has gotten. Boy, does it stink.

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Cliched, uninspiring, forced, and boring are only a few of the adjectives that come to mind to describe season nine of The Walking Dead. We left last season with The Worst Lead Ever Rick Grimes initiating his Happy New World and Michonne, Daryl, and Maggie plotting in the shadows to kill Negan. Flash forward to season nine and a year and half later in Walking Dead time and not much really has happened to convince us The Walking Dead is on the upward swing to better television.

We’re introduced to a random kid who quickly becomes zombie food. While everyone on screen was torn apart by his death the result is nothing more than another flat moment in a long line of flat moments. Who was this kid and why should the viewer care about someone introduced only a scene before his death?

Walking Dead season nine doctor gets training

With hard work, dedication, and a zombie apocalypse you too can be a doctor. (No practical training needed)

The real reason behind killing off an unknown random character was to force Maggie into killing Gregory. Honestly, he should have been killed off a lot sooner. Gregory’s only purpose in the series was to spark conflict and turn the Hilltop against Maggie. After two seasons it had grown stale and played out. It was about time the series cut dead weight before Negan returns in full bloom to cause more boring Negan chaos.

Somewhere in the past year and half a rift occurred between all three communities. Was it the ferry project Aaron kept alluding to on his walks with Jesus? Or was it something else? Based on the reaction Michonne received from just about everyone at the Hilltop it had to be something more than just a ferry. If it was the ferry issue than it was important enough to mention a couple of times only to be forgotten about. However, the first half of the season is pretty bare bones on details.

Lauren Cohan wanted a pay raise for season nine of the Walking Dead. And for her crimes showrunners wrote her off the show like she was never in the series.

Lauren Cohan wanted a pay raise and for her crimes showrunners wrote her off the show like she had never been on the series.

The rift between the communities and how they come back together should have been season nine’s main focus. It was an opportunity to move the story forward in a different direction. We’ve seen plenty of “the gang is in trouble and now fights to save what they fought to establish” story lines. Imagine the story moving towards the goals it had set out to achieve at the end of season eight. Instead, we’re treated to a lot of sappy, sweet voice overs reminding us yet again what everyone is fighting for in the zombie apocalypse. We know what the gang is fighting for and reminding us every episode does not make for good or even entertaining television.

Showrunners have pulled a lot of ridiculous stunts on its viewers during its eight and a half season run. The most famous stunt was letting everyone think Glenn was dead while he was actually hiding underneath a dumpster. How can we ever forget Carl’s off screen zombie bite? But the biggest, cheese dick move The Walking Dead showrunners have pulled to date is Andrew Lincoln’s non-departure from The Walking Dead?

Super Rick in The Walking Dead Season Nine

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No! It’s Super Rick! And not even a steel rod straight through the stomach can stop him.

Remember at the beginning of 2018 and during the SDCC it was announced Andrew Lincoln was leaving the show? To be fair, showrunners did not exactly say Rick Grimes was going to be killed off. However, they did not say he wasn’t going to be killed off either. They just let everyone believe whatever they wanted to believe. Even Andrew Lincoln got in on the lie when he told media outlets he was leaving the show to be with his family.

Well, Rick didn’t die. Rick not only survives a piece of steel rebar straight through his gut he also survives an explosion. We’re not talking a little explosion. We’re talking an explosion big enough and powerful enough to take down a bridge. It wouldn’t serve AMC’s bottom life if Rick Grimes was completely off the series or even out of the zombie universe they’re tying to create, but what the network is really saying is Rick Grimes is indestructible.

Angry Michonne being angry in season nine of the Walking Dead

Angrier Michonne does not mean a better Michonne, but it does mean a Michonne that gets on the viewers last nerve.

The void left by Rick’s departure is going to be a difficult obstacle for the series to hurdle. With Rick gone other characters have to step up to fill the void. Unfortunately, an angry Michonne, a thinner Eugene, and a one-eyed Gabriel are not enough to fill the Rick void. Not even making Jesus a Kung Fu master when he’s never been a Kung Fu master only to kill him off helps.

Introducing new characters was one attempt to fill the void. New characters have helped in the past. Season three’s introduction of Sasha and Tyreese made viewers almost forget the underwhelming season two. Abraham, Eugene, and Rosita had the viewers hooked the moment they were introduced into the series. For better or worse we would not be at the point in the series if it weren’t for all the new characters introduced at the beginning of the Alexandria saga.

Recycled characters introduced in Season Nine of the Walking Dead

Meet the new kids on the block. You’ve seen them before at various times during Walking Dead’s nine seasons.

However, the new characters introduced into the series are pale imitations of characters we’ve already seen throughout the series. Writers and showrunners are now recycling characters and rehashing drama we’ve seen before except this time with a Michonne who forgets she was once in the same spot as the newcomers.

These characters and this story cannot propel the story any farther than it has already gone. For eight and half seasons the majority of the story has been focused on Rick. The other characters have been satellites revolving around Rick. Now it’s the writers task to have the remaining characters step up to lead the series. So far it’s a task they are failing at.

Dan Fogler in Season Nine of The Walking Dead

Dan Fogler stopped looking for Fantastic Beasts and found rotting corpses.

I’m not disappointed that somewhere during fighting Negan and zombie hordes and with no explanation, no trial and error the survivors learned to create their own medicines, antibiotics, and saline solutions for IV bags. I’m not even mad that today I can’t find a trustworthy mechanic, but during the apocalypse you’ll have no shortage of people with blacksmithing skills. Heck, I’m not even mad there are more reliable doctors in the zombie apocalypse than in my own home town.

Aaron walks around in the fog during season nine of The Walking Dead

This is actually a pretty nice and moody shot. It sets the tone for the action to follow.

No, I’m disappointed that every episode is almost worse than the one before. I’m disappointed the acting has gotten progressively worse. Maybe the acting hasn’t gotten worse in season nine. Andrew Lincoln has always been the main focus of the series and the other actors were always supporting roles. It’s only apparent now the acting has been average at best because there were never full scenes with the supporting cast being the main focus.

Maybe the last half of season nine will be an improvement over the first half of the season. AMC is pimping the heck out of the Whisperers. A group of crazies dressed in zombie skins who can control the dead seems like it will be a return to The Walking Dead’s horror roots. Negan, who seemed to be emasculated in the earlier part of season nine, is sure to return to his old tired games. What this ultimately means is we will get more of the same things we have seen in the past eight seasons. At least we’ll have Samantha Morton on the series.

Negan gives the bird to Rick in The Walking Dead

Sometimes it feels like The Walking Dead is giving the middle finger to all of us.

 

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A Clockwork Orange Gets the Mezco Toys Treatment https://www.amindonfire.com/a-clockwork-orange-mezco-toyz/ Tue, 08 Jan 2019 02:33:07 +0000 https://www.amindonfire.com/?p=9746 Mezco Toyz likes A Clockwork Orange so much they released two versions of its Alex DeLarge figure. We take a look at the trimmed down 12-inch version of the figure.

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A Clockwork Orange was met with a chilly reception upon its original release. Roger Ebert called the movie a “an ideological mess, a paranoid right-wing fantasy.” Pauline Kael, who seemed to have never liked any of the movies she reviewed, called the movie “an abhorrent viewing experience.” Kael called Kubrick a pornographer more than once in her review. She also said the acting was terrible and complained about the pacing of the film.

Crimes of all sorts were blamed on Kubrick and his movie. Parents, church groups, and every group in between called for the movie to be banned. Although the movie was a box-office success and some critics liked the movie,Vincent Canby called the movie “an essentially British nightmare” and said the movie was “beautiful to look at and to hear that it dazzles the senses and the mind,” Kubrick still pulled the movie from wide circulation in England.

A lot has changed in the almost forty eight years since A Clockwork Orange premiered. The movie is considered a classic. The bleak dystopian nightmare portrayed in the movie has been mimicked by more than one movie. People, celebrities and normal folk alike, dress up like Alex for Halloween with no regards for the evil the character represents. Toy companies now make figures based on the movie.

Mezco Toys recently released two 12-inch figures based on the character of Alex DeLarge. The one not being shown falls under Mezco’s One:12 Collective collection. The One:12 Alex Delarge is a figure on steroids. It stands 12 inches tall, but has more accessories and articulation than the figure being reviewed. It’s an awesome figure and if you can afford the price tag it would make a nice addition to any collection.

Mezco also released a trimmed down version of the One:12 version. It may have fewer accessories, less articulation, and comes without the stitched clothing, but it’s still an excellent figure. It also has a price tag ($39-44, depending on where you find it) many of us can afford.

Without further delay, the Mezo A Clockwork Orange review:

Alex DeLarge from A Clockwork Orange by Mezco Toyz.

Don’t worry about breakage. The box is secure and packaged very nicely.

Alex Delarge from A Clockwork Orange by Mezco Toyz.

A professional photographer with professional equipment took the picture for the back of the box. You won’t get their shot and my pictures confused.

Alex DeLarge from A Clockwork Orange by Mezco Toyz

Two plastic trays and a sheet of plastic protect your figure from breakage and scratches that may occur during shipping.

Alex DeLarge from A Clockwork Orange by Mezco Toyz

The figure may lack the articulation a lot collectors like to see in a figure, but we don’t mind when the figure looks this good.

Alex Delarge from A Clockwork Orange by Mezco Toys

The face sculpt has amazing detail. Notice Alex’s smirk.

Alex DeLarge from A Clockwork Orange by Mezco Toyz

No detail was overlooked when creating the Alex figure. The opposite sleeve has a different colored eye ball.

Alex DeLarge from A Clockwork Orange by Mezco Toyz

Notice the creases and folds in the clothes. Who knew Alex has such tight buns?

Alex DeLarge from A Clockwork Orange by Mezco Toyz

The one other accessory, besides the cane with hidden knife, is the mask Alex wears during the movie’s notorious rape scene.

 

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The Yuletide Horror of Saint Nick https://www.amindonfire.com/yuletide-horror-saint-nick/ Mon, 24 Dec 2018 03:02:11 +0000 https://www.amindonfire.com/?p=9708 We review Saint Nick just in time to make your wintery nights a little more chilly or...chilling.

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Oh, how we love a good Christmas tale. We love Christmas tales that warm the heart, but we also love Christmas tales that chill the blood. Saint Nick almost fits the bill for some holiday horrors.

First, don’t confuse Saint Nick, aka Sinterklass, with Santa Claus. Saint Nick was never the first toy maker to the king and never lived at the North Pole. Nick actually hails from Turkey via Spain. Instead of reindeer Sinterklass gets a little help from Zwarte Piet (translated into English as Black Peter) and the gang of Pieten. Gifts are given to the good children while bad children get coal in their shoes, not in their stockings.

Why are we telling you all of this Saint Nick background? Because the Nick in Saint Nick isn’t holly nor is he jolly. Way back in the day Amsterdam villagers had enough of his evil ways. Banding together the village offed Saint Nick and his crew condemning them to their ship. They all thought everything was going to be okay, but little did they realize every December 5th when there’s a full moon Saint Nick comes back to kill at will. Saint Nick doesn’t care who’s been naughty or nice.

A little girl is excited for the arrival of Saint Nick

Saint Nick (aka Saint) takes place on one of those full moon December 5th nights. It starts off on a rather ghoulish note. In the winter of 1968 Nick and his gang slaughter an entire family. Fast forward another thirty something years and a full moon later Saint Nick is back in town.

Saint Nick lulls you into the false believe that you are about to watch a horror movie. It’s natural to think the movie you are watching is going to be a full blown horror movie after you see an entire family being killed. Saint Nick though comes across more of a comedy movie than a horror movie.

The movie has the required teenager quotient to adult ratio required for horror movies of this kind. It’s nice to see teenagers not taking over a horror movie like in other horror movies. In fact, most of the teens are killed off by Saint Nick in the first act of the movie. Only Frank, who is accused of the murders occurring in Amsterdam, makes it through the movie.

Death from above in the form of Saint Nick

A wrongly accused Frank teams up with Amsterdam police officer Goert Hoekstra. Hoekstra believes in the evil Saint Nick myth so deeply his investigations sideline his career. The disgraced cop who teams up with someone outside the police force for (insert various reasons here) is an over used cliche. It doesn’t work here anymore than it has in the dozens and dozens of movies that have used the same cliche.

In the second act of the movie there’s a pretty cool chase scene involving cops and Saint Nick. It’s one of the high lights of the movie that leads to the final showdown between Frank, Saint Nick, and an Amsterdam tactical team armed to the teeth. Of course, Frank wins the fight but not before Hoekstra dies.

Frank rides with the cops while they chase Saint Nick

What makes Saint Nick a little different from the rest of the Santa Claus as a killer movies is the larger conspiracy playing throughout the movie. While Frank and Hoekstra are fighting to save Amsterdam the big wigs in the government are busy keeping things quiet. By the end of the movie Saint Nick hadn’t killed anyone. It was a building fire and a serial killer cop responsible for a lot of deaths.

Saint Nick may not scare you. You may also laugh at scenes the director never intended to be comical and you may find some of the scenes either not gory enough or too gory. It’s still a fun, short movie. If anything its time away from the typical Hallmark Christmas movies flooding the networks this time of the year.

A victim of Saint Nick

Don’t lose your head, it’s only Christmas time.

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