Friday, August 11, 2017

My Pet Game of Thrones Theory

I’ve thought a lot about hanging threads this season of Game of Thrones . These last two shortened seasons are a time for finality and resolution. Whether we like those resolutions is another story. One specific thread has been barely touched on this season is Jon Snow’s parentage. Apart from the quick “I’m no Stark” line, we haven’t seen one story beat moving that issue toward a resolution. We know that Bran knows, but his new all-knowing personality doesn’t seem to deem that important information right now.

When thinking about how this thread could be resolved in some sort of poetic way, an interesting idea came to me. I believe that Sean Bean reprising his role as Ned Stark will appear in a vision to Jon Snow via the Three Eyed Raven’s powers and make good on his promise from season 1. Sure, this is wild speculation that is most likely false but I do have some history to back it up. As we know from Bran’s arc, the Three Eyed Raven can target visions to specific people to help them gain knowledge. In addition, Michelle Fairley reprised her role as Catelyn Stark in a previous vision. This would be a great, symbolic way to close the loop on this mystery and open the door for whatever fallout comes afterward. Plus it would show Bran actually doing something of meaning with his newfound abilities.

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by Christopher Moore
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Sunday, August 6, 2017

Review: ‘The Dark Tower’


The Dark Tower seems to me like a film that was beat into submission by too many forces competing for creative control. From the beginning, making a book series filled with brutal, vile imagery PG-13 meant you were going to cut out a lot of what gave the book series flavor. Then to make an unholy amalgamation of all the books, seemingly mashing together set-pieces from book 2, 6 and 7, makes matters ever worse. Almost none of this movie occurs in the books and what does occur is changed so much that it is almost unrecognizable. But they gave themselves a major out by making this a sort of sequel to the books, which is bizarrely never mentioned in the movie at all.

I tried to put myself in the shoes of someone who didn’t know anything about this world, or the long twisted history of the characters within it. So many scenes throw around phrases, special objects, or abilities that I’ve spent almost 5,000 pages reading about. So when Walter pulls out Black 13 from his cabinet and uses it to glamour Roland I know the importance of that item and the long bloody road it took to get into his possession (or rather Father Callahan’s). To the average viewer, Matthew McConaughey pulls out a magical ball from a cabinet and can suddenly teleport.

Another great example of this is the scene where Roland and Jake take refuge in what I guess is supposed to me a Manni Village though they never explain that in the film. The main Manni reveals to the tribe that Roland is Roland Deschain, Son of Steven, last in the line of Eld. Everyone is at a loss for words and can’t believe the last of the Eld, a true Gunslinger and protector of the White is here at their dinner table. That was great for me to see, it echoed back to Roland and his Ka-Tet meeting the kind folk of River Crossing. Roland promising to take a cross from them and lay it at the foot of the Dark Tower if someday his quest is fulfilled. I suspect everyone else in the theater was confused as to why this was so important and forgot all about it a scene later.

What really irks me about this adaptation/sequel is how far is strays from the soul messages of the series. The Dark Tower novels are not about crazy gunplay. Sure, fantastic action happens, but at the end of the day the series is about analyzing the concepts of destiny, storytelling, person bonds and purpose. None of that is conveyed in this film. Looking back I can’t remember a single time Ka is mentioned. What are we even doing here? If they get a shot at making a sequel or the series, I’d love to see them pull more from the messaging of the books and remember the face of their fathers.





tumblr_ockw6xwPZI1t7b5qro1_1280-300x153 Review: 'The Dark Tower' Movies

I would be remiss if I didn’t get super nerdy for a second and talk about the implications of this being a sequel to the books. The Horn of Eld is clearly seen multiple times in the film and bizarrely never mentioned or even touched upon. I found the addition of it to be a really cool way to get around the common gripe of the movie being different from the books. “Sure it’s different, it’s the next cycle in Roland’s Journey.” With Roland never getting to the Tower, I’m hoping a possible sequel will bring in Eddy, Oddetta/Detta, the Crimson King and even Oy. “Do animals still talk in your world.” King specifically said on Twitter that this is the last time around and Roland will reach the Tower and blow. I need to see that, no matter what. If I’m remembering correctly before the coda of the last book Roland hears a horn blow as he approaches the Tower. I never understood what that meant or symbolized. I’d love to see a re-done version of that scene.

Regardless how bad this movie was, seeing certain things on screen gave me shivers. When the “Tet-Corporation” production logo came up after the Sony logo I nearly lost my shit. So cool. Hearing Roland recite the Gunslinger’s Creed is inarguably amazing. I just wish the soul of the series was on screen along with the cool stuff.


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by Christopher Moore
This post first appeared on on

Monday, July 31, 2017

Review: ‘Game of Thrones’ 7.03 – ‘The Queen’s Justice’

The Queen’s Justice sort of felt to me like the scene in The Dark Knight where the Joker talks about being like a dog chasing a car. If he finally got one, he wouldn’t know what to do with it. That’s how I felt this week. Major moments we have been building up to have finally come to fruition and I don’t feel let down I just don’t have that anticipation to rely on anymore. Jon finally meets Dany, Casterly Rock is shown on screen and Olenna Tyrell is dead. All of this is major to the show but so much is happening so fast it is hard to reminisce for too long while looking forward to the next episode.

We are certainly getting a lot more action at a quicker pace this season but I feel like the overall quality of the action has certainly taken a dip. Casterly rock is constantly alluded to as one of the most beautiful places in Westeros. To me, it seemed like a fairly plain seaside castle and the action that followed amounted to about two hallway fights. I know that was kind of the point, they pulled out most the men in an attempt to trick the unsullied but still. The battle went by very quick. To me this points to the idea that while yes we are getting more higher produced episodes, we are still working towards a couple major scenes that are still a cash sink to produce. Maybe even more so than earlier major set-pieces.

It was still amazing to see these characters interact for the first time on screen. Dany and Jon’s push-pull mediated by Tyrion was fantastic. These characters have so much family history and they are all so smart. It’s just fun to see them interact. Though it do find it interesting that the theme of these first few episodes has been “it wasn’t as easy to take over Westeros as Dany thought.” I think that will change fairy soon. Maybe even next week as I believe reviewers were only sent the first three episodes.

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by Christopher Moore
This post first appeared on on

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Review: ‘Atomic Blonde’

It’s easy to tag Atomic Blonde as this year’s John Wick. From the trailers it would seem that Charlize Theron is wronged and she goes on a Wick-esque rampage to bring street justice to those that deserve it. That certainly plays a part, but this movie is a full on Cold War Era spy thriller. It is filled to the brim with intricate plot twists, character motivations and shifting allegiances. It’s much more than a simple revenge tale, for better or worse.

Where the movie falters is when it gets too bogged down with code names and the he-said-she-said of Cold War espionage. So many names, real and otherwise, are thrown out that it can be hard to follow. Luckily Theron’s goal is always on our minds as she weaves her way through the Wild West that is the two broken Berlins.

Atomic Blonde is also unlike the movies that it is being compared with its restraint with violence. The trailers would make is seem like a blood-fest from beginning to end, but as with any good espionage tale, violence is a last resort. It’s something that only is done when your cover is blown and you need to get out at all costs. But rest assured, there are multiple incredibly well choreographed actions scenes that give you the visceral punch you are looking for. And when the blood starts to flow, oh boy, it doesn’t stop.

I hate to keep bringing up John Wick but they are both R-rated revenge flicks that are drenched in neon. What Keanue Reeves is able to do with a gun is unparalleled in modern cinema. The choreography is so well done and meticulously planned out that at times it feels like he’s dancing with a gun. Neon Blonde doesn’t even try to hit that mark. The violence it portrays, while over the top in parts, is portrayed as very grounded and brutal. Theron knows how to use a gun, but there are point in the film where it a bare knuckle blood bath akin to something closer to The Raid than John Wick. This doesn’t mean either way is better, in fact I think this style of combat it more authentic to the narrative of the film.

Theron is unstoppable, she is so perfect for this role and is so physical in the action scenes that she earns every bit of praise she is getting. If there’s a worthwhile story to be told beyond this, I hope we get to see it.

Rating: **** out of five

Starring: Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, Sofia Boutella and John Goodman

Runtime: 1h 55m

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by Christopher Moore
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Monday, July 24, 2017

Review: ‘Game of Thrones’ – ‘Stormborn’

The second episode of the second to last season of Game of Thrones signals to me the shift in pacing that we were predicting with the new shortened season format. A lot happened in this episode that is worth discussing, but capping the second episode with a major naval battle scene isn’t something this show is known for. It almost felt like a Hardhome­ style move to have this battle come out of nowhere in a pretty politics heavy episode. But what it really is a signal of is the condensed season giving each individual episode an expanded budget.

In this episode we got a major, instant payoff for a promise that was given in the previous episode. That’s a far cry from the usual drawn out nature of previous seasons. So when Cersei and Jamie and discussing the wars to come, that could conceivably translate to major sequences mere episodes away. Mirroring my sentiment from last weeks review, now that we have this increased pace, every declaration or idea has so much more weight.

This extends beyond that naval combat seen in this episode. Jon learns of Dany’s existence, gets word of her call to court, and makes the decision to go within a 20 minute period. There is no mincing of words and no dilly dallying. Davos plainly states that Dragons can be a major asset in the war against the frozen dead and Jon agrees. Now some might say that this increased pace loses any poetic artistry or political intrigue you may have gotten in past seasons. Which I can see. I don’t think George R.R. Martin would have written a scene where the Hound makes fun of someone for having a man-bun. To me this is a necessary evil in order to deliver us the show in a somewhat manageable timeframe in an enjoyable way.

Here’s hoping the wars to come aren’t too rushed getting to us and things work out for our heroes. If last night was any indication, it may not be as easy as they thought.


Quick Thoughts:

  • Jon and Littlefinger’s scene in the tombs below Winterfell felt like a dark mirror to Rob and Ned’s scene in the same location from Season 1. Both Stark patriarchs discussing what their little sister means to them.
  • How gnarly was that Jorah/Samwell operation scene?!

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by Christopher Moore
This post first appeared on on

Monday, July 17, 2017

Review: ‘War for the Planet of the Apes’

It’s a remarkable thing, this trilogy. Set many years prior to the events depicted in the classic original Planet of the Apes (and produced 40+ years after its release), not many (myself included) had this rebooted franchise pegged as the next great sci-fi saga in recent cinematic history; however, following the release of its third and final chapter, War for the Planet of the Apes, it’s safe to say that’s exactly what we have here. A series of films this rich and deliberative, this impeccably characterized, this technologically innovative and beautifully photographed does not come around often, let alone when they’re about an army of super apes inching their way towards a takeover of the human race and the planet they inhabit. This series had no right being any of that, and yet that’s just what it defiantly wound up being. War is perhaps the most layered, mature, and striking of the three; in a summer full of immersive genre fare and jaw-dropping spectacle, it stands alone.

Picking up a short period of time following the chaotic events of Dawn, War is set in a time in which Caesar and his tribe have regrouped and reassembled – although the emotional and physical scarring of what previously occurred involving the betrayal of rogue ape Koba still weighs heavily – before a human squadron lead by “The Colonel” (Woody Harrelson, as intense and savage as ever) strikes a devastating, irreversible blow to the community. It drives Caesar, aided by the steady hands of series stalwarts Maurice, Rocket, and Luca, to embark on a mystery-solving journey of blood-thirsty revenge, and what follows is quite extraordinary. It’s in this portion of the film where War elevates itself beyond anything in the series to date, eliciting a vibe and cinematic scale both wholly original and wonderfully familiar. The series had more or less played coy with its connective ties to the original Apes prior to this point, but War doesn’t mess around; evoking the classic iconography – from the gorgeous shot of the apes riding horseback on the beach to the all-too-familiar cages they’re eventually round up in like cattle – the film gives us what we know and love while providing just enough of an awesome spin on each throwback to make adoring fans of both eras beam with pride.

It’s what the series does with the character of Caesar, and by extension the ape friends who’ve been by his side since the beginning, that stands as its greatest triumph, however. He is a motion-capture-achieved chimpanzee played by Andy Serkis who possesses all the depth, tragedy and humanity of any single human being from any series of blockbusters that I can recall, and in War it’s the internal suffering and conflict at the center of every action he takes that imbues the film’s strongest emotional impact and propels the story forward above anything else. We care so much about him at this point, a testament to the remarkable character work and development carefully threaded through all three chapters of this epic story. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention Maurice the orangutan, Caesar’s closest confidant and War’s secret MVP. He’s a big, bright orange physical presence, yes, but it’s his calm, steady demeanor and invaluable wisdom that he imparts on everyone around him that makes him especially endearing. I love that guy.

And I love this movie, no doubt the peak of a summer movie season as strong as any in recent years. It’s conclusion feels very finite and bleeds fairly seamlessly into what the eventual world of Planet of the Apes will one day look like, but it doesn’t feel like there still isn’t plenty more story to mine in this current timeline or with this current core of characters. Director Matt Reeves has proven himself so capable, I won’t lie that I’d love to see what he could do with a remake of sorts of the original film. But if this is indeed all that we get, consider me beyond satisfied; this series was that special.

Rating: ***** out of five

Starring: Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn, Karin Konoval, Terry Notary

Runtime: 140 minutes

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by Michael Lang
This post first appeared on on

Review: ‘Game of Thrones’ 7.01 – ‘Dragonstone’

Dragonstone is a pretty typical “getting back into the groove of things” premier episode for Game of Thrones that is abnormally heightened because of the inherent stakes involved. With only two shortened seasons left, ever scene of the show felt so much more grandiose simply because setups simply don’t have the time for multiple seasons waiting for the payoff anymore. Things are coming to a head whether we are ready for them or not.

A great example of this is Samwell’s Harry Potter-esqu treck into the forbidden part of the great library. I’m betting he will pay for his misdeeds within the next two episodes, ultimately proving that importance of the information he gained outweighs his breaking of the rules. With such little time left, each storyline has so much weight to it. Nothing can be taken for granted and no scene has time to waste. Having this breakneck speed could screw with the successful slow burn quality of previous seasons but if Dragonstone is to be any indicator, they know how to pace themselves.

The actual story of the episode is about what we had expected, the notable exception of the amazing Arya/Frey massacre. Dany has her emotional return to Westeros (amazingly shot by the way) and Cersei recommits to keeping herself in the throne. Jon lays down the law while Bran is making his way south via The Night’s Watch. All pretty much according to the most popular fan theories. Right now, thats fine but I have faith that Thrones still has a few tricks up its sleeve.


Quick Thoughts:

  • Some beautiful shots in this episode. I was almost in awe of Dany’s walk up to Dragonstone. That could have been a real castle for all I know.
  • I found it a little weird that all those years ago when The Hound killed that family we are expected to believe that he just happens to stumble upon the same house. Maybe it’s destiny?
  • Impressive performance by David Bradley in a surprise cameo from Walder Frey. It must be so hard to play a character pretending to be another character.

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by Christopher Moore
This post first appeared on on