TV Shows

Alex Rider Season Two

I’ll keep this review short. It was a fun background noise while I worked on other writing. The action scenes were meh, the plot was sort of interesting – mainly trying to figure out the nefarious purpose behind the video game. Sorry, getting ahead of myself. Story is there’s something shady about a billionaire named Damian Cray and his upcoming sequel launch to his bestselling game, Feathered Serpent. Alex Rider falls into the plot by sheer accident because a journalist winds up hospitalized, and the daughter happens to be someone Alex has taking a liking to during vacation. He takes matters into his own hands, and ends up saving the world, no thanks to his former spy employers.

It was fun to see all the characters back together, getting up to their usual shenanigans, while learning just a tiny bit more about the backstory of Alex Rider. The ending of the show seems to hint that the next season will explore that facet of his history.

Overall, it was a quaint watch, reminiscent of spy shows of old. I recommend it if you’re a fan of the books or character.

TV Shows

The Wheel of Time (Updated)

Based upon the three episodes available on release (Scroll down for Edit)

I like it. I have no idea what the source material is, or how popular the books might be. For what it is, it’s a nice reprieve on streaming with so little quality shows as of late in the fantasy department. It starts off with an epic scale, and keeps it up. You can see where the show is going with their characters – you can see the journey. Honestly for all the exposition and background given, I’m not too concerned about the details of the lore. I’m watching because I want to see my hero reunited with my other hero while loving and endearing sidekicks A and B develop their own, just as needed, character arcs. The general concept is very cool, the idea of Light vs Dark quite literally, and an evil being known affectionately as the Dark One. A grand hero born each age with the power to destroy or save the world, with the last one choosing to destroy it. The hero is reborn due to the so called Wheel of Time. Lot of reincarnation ideas at play here, and very similar to weaving fate like some certain Greek sisters.

The show itself has a lot of similarities to Lord of the Rings in the journey that the heroes take to reach their goal. A person of great magical power comes to some tiny little backwards town to find an individual that’s the possible reborn hero, called the Dragon Reborn. There’s some creepy evil bad dude in a black cloak riding on a black horse commanding dark forces, and the magic that the women use is called the One Power. There’s a bit more exposition and learning to be had about the world which Amazon does a great job of dripping you with the X-ray feature to inform, and the explore tab on the show’s page.

The costume work is great, the clothes feel of quality. The CGI is well done, and the beastly monsters look like a mix of CGI and motion capture/suit. The whole production feels high quality but there’s just something that feels lacking. A spark. It feels like its rushing to get to the end so that there can be a foundation of which to jump off of. Like “look at how massive and well established this world is. We have so many characters we would like to explore, while also having our cores be well told.” There is much here to dig into, and to delve into philosophical ideas. Such as women are the ones who hold true power because men become blinded mad by it.

The cast does a great job, especially Rosamund Pike as the cold and calculating Moiraine. I have no idea who the rest of them are, they feel like relative newcomers especially the four possible dragon reborn, but I do enjoy their performances. Rand is a thick headed stubborn fool, but loyal. Mat is a roguish thief that would do anything to make sure his sisters are okay, Perrin is a gentle giant with a hidden bloodlust that he fears as its already cost him once, and Egwene is a natural healer, and kindhearted girl. We also have Lan, a warder of Moiraine, which I’m not quite sure what it is – possibly some sort of personal lifelong bodyguard. They start their quest off together but because we need to create methods to explore our main 4, and to give them hardships, we break off early on and explore different paths trying to get to the same outcome.

I really enjoyed the sweeping cinematography, the mountains, the hills, the vast forests. The rivers, and the trees. The budget really went all out, filming in location. I really appreciated it all because it allowed me to be immersed into this world. The score adds nice touches here and there, help accentuate moments of fear or the tension of being chased.

Overall, I really like it so far and I am excited for the next however long it takes to get all the episodes out. I’m sure the journey will be enjoyable and worth it.

UPDATED SECTION

Edit: After having watched the rest of the show, I say that it is quite worth the effort. I enjoyed the direction the story went with, the effects shown, and the strength of the acting, both in emotions and physicality. The start of episode 7 featured an incredible stunt sequence of a pregnant warrior fighting off multiple opponents. It was raw, visceral, and very well done.

Each episode past the initial three added more exposition, intrigue and mystery to the story while interjecting morality and lessons on power. I liked the amyrlin seat, and the order of power in the White Tower for the all female mages. The relationships between them, while also being careful as not to spill too many secrets because everyone there is vying for power.

The finale was enjoyable as it ended this journey of five, and split them up into their own stories, and their own paths. Matt goes one way, Rand another. Egwene, Nynaeve and Perrin left at the city at the end. And Moiraine with Lan having to figure their own thing. We got some answers as to what the Dark One wants, and the true nature of the Dragon Reborn, but not enough. I do wish Amazon gave them more episodes to flesh it out some more, but given what we got, it is a fun ride. Also that last scene, wow, scary, and I’m curious how it’ll fit into the plot moving fowards.

I recommend this show!

Movies

Without Remorse

I went into this one straight away without watching the trailer because I am a fan of Michael B. Jordan, and I was curious as to how Amazon would treat another Tom Clancy property. I came away from it pleasantly surprised, and I see why a lot of other reviewers panned it negatively. It is not nice to American propaganda outside of the usual CIA fluff, which is obvious otherwise it wouldn’t be a Tom Clancy movie. You could see the ending a mile off, but that did not negatively impact my enjoyment. In fact, I was hoping it would be the case of what I thought it was and in that regard I was happy.

“I’ll show them what a pawn can do to a King.”

The plot, which is simple, and not indecipherable as several reviews I’ve read have said, is that John Kelly, played by Michael B. Jordan, goes on a hunt for the men responsible in the death of his pregnant wife and unborn child. Along the way he uncovers a conspiracy to frame the US and Russia in order to provoke them into war. The writer responsible for this movie is Tyler Sheridan, of Sicario fame. His script has similar themes to that movie, of the dirty business that the US utilizes to get results and/or wealth. You can see who is the main villain because of whom they cast in a certain role, for they wouldn’t cast an A list name if they didn’t have a larger purpose. I don’t mind that, because it is about the journey and how it is told.

The journey is accompanied by some spectacular action set pieces, carried by the strength of believability from Michael B. Jordan’s acting skills. Two particular scenes are still ingrained in my mind, one from the trailer – his jail cell fight, and the other involving a plane sinking into the ocean. There is plenty of hand-to-hand combat, along with shooting. These scenes are always fun, and the guns have a nice sound and heft to them when fired. It was gritty, and at times, a little intense. The scenes held my attention well – no looking at my phone.

Spoiler Alert

I’ll give you a second to avoid this. Skip down to the conclusion if you wish to not be spoiled.

Here Be Spoilers

I knew the big reveal was gonna be that the US, or rather, a corrupt D.O.D official was going to be behind everything and that it is because of money. Because nothing generates more war for a large country like the US than spending money on the horrors and tools of war. I particularly enjoyed the bad dude’s speech on how world war two was won for the economists because how much wealth it generated for them. I also liked that they said the problem is that the US has no real enemy anymore, that one half thinks the other half is the enemy and that doesn’t generate any real wealth. The people need a new common enemy to focus their anger and fear on. That fear generates the idea of patriots fighting for their country and in turn, the cycle of war and wealth continues. The spending continues. Corporate reviewers have to pan the movie negatively because of this, their bosses, especially in the US, are a part of the propaganda machine that always turns. Hence why the CIA are made out to be the good guys in the movie – luckily, hopefully, people still remember Gary Webb. So, no matter of propaganda will ever have the CIA be seen in a good light. Well, at least to those educated in such matters.

End Spoilers

Overall, I really liked the movie. The action was clear, and easy to follow along. The main character; that is, Michael B. Jordan is a bonafide action hero. He has that charisma to him, and believability that he can kick ass and take names. He also has the acting chops for when strong emotions are required. I enjoy watching his career with great interest. The other actors in the movie are sufficient at their roles, I wasn’t taken out of the immersion by anyone. Gunplay is solid, and I feel we have John Wick to thank for that. I feel that movie has positively affected every new action movie to have a certain standard when it comes to guns. I digress, I recommend this movie for a watch.