Movies

Moonfall

Everything about this disaster movie fits the typical bill for Roland Emmerich. CGI extravaganza with widespread near total destruction with only a handful of survivors, and long periods spent trying to gain audience sympathy for characters and their families. I came for the aliens and destruction that I expect from his movies.

The opening sequence and the final act regarding our trio of heroes were the best parts for me, and I definitely want a sequel. I want to see where it would lead. Patrick Wilson did a terrific job especially when it counted to get the audience emotionally teared up. Halle Berry was working with what she had, her character didn’t get the same impact as Patrick Wilson’s did. And John Bradley, of GOT’s fame, came off as initially annoying yet became loveable and misunderstood. His character’s arc I wish to see more of in the sequel.

I had to leave my brain at the door to properly enjoy this. It was fantasy up until the final arc where we finally got some sci-fi in the mix. The soundtrack was great; helped increase my heartrate in intense sequences. The actor playing the son of Patrick Wilson’s character was so terrible that I am surprised he got cast. It takes something special to pull you out of a B-movie’s immersion.

Overall, either you’ll find it an enjoyable popcorn or snack-filled movie, or you’ll find it downright dumb and silly. It can be both. If you like aliens and conspiracy theories in your movies, I’d recommend it. Or if you simply like seeing the world get destroyed in CGI destruction.

TV Shows

An Open Letter to Lauren S. Hissrich

When you adapt a work, or a story, to a different medium, such as television, you need to maintain the theme, aesthetics or message of the original source. You cannot drastically change the characters, with which fans have become endeared to, to your own fan fiction. You have to create an overarching narrative based upon the original source, using their characters as established, to further their arcs and growth. This doesn’t mean you do a 1:1 ratio, and perfectly replicate the plot on screen. This wouldn’t work. What it does mean, is to read the original source, and understand these character’s motivations, fears, emotions, and arcs and replicate them with your actors and actresses. Once you truly understand these characters, and what drives them, then you can focus on making a narrative. You failed step one.

There are spoilers to season 2 of the Witcher here on out. I cannot abide, sitting by idly, while this showrunner ruins a beloved franchise, and runs it into the ground.

“It starts in the writers room. 20 weeks of book-reading, story-spinning, imagination-bending, head-bashing, vodka-slurping and cake-eating.” From her Twitter.

20 weeks? Are you sure? If that was true, then how come you completely butchered/ruined the characters of Eskel, Yennefer, and Vesemir? Eskel is a kindhearted man (who didn’t have a lot of book time), with a heavily scarred face but he proved that looks aren’t everything as he’s a brother like figure to Geralt, and cares deeply for others. What we got? An asshole womanizing douchebag, who doesn’t like anyone, is constantly mad, and brings a bunch of street whores (in summer clothes) to his hidden castle, located high up in the wintery mountains. Apparently, he’s infected by a leshen despite witchers having a natural immunity to almost all disease and poisons. And then, Geralt has to kill him. But don’t worry, we explain his drastic change in behavior due to this infection, and we have a scene showing Geralt fondly remembering who he used to be.

Next, in what world did you read that Yennefer would even remotely think to sacrifice Ciri for personal gain? The answer is 0. It would never happen, she grows to be like a mother to her and not once does she consider to use Ciri for her own gain. Secondly, you can’t have a mage lose magical power casting a spell, especially one of Fire magic when you go and introduce a bounty hunting mage that solely uses fire magic. I tolerated these changes because maybe, the ending could be good, with proper set-up for more events. Nope, you decide to have Vesemir consider killing Ciri to stop her. The older, grandpa, protective of everyone, and has a soft spot for all witchers under him, and deeply trusts Geralt, is going to stab Ciri? That this man who would never consider subjecting another child to the trial of grasses because he knows the suffering, that he would do it to Ciri? How much vodka did you slurp?

I only touched on three characters here. I could probably write several pages on how badly you fucked up Ciri; using portals and casting spells under extremely stressful situations with no proper training and succeeding. Did you watch Star Wars, look at the character of Rey, and think, “Yea, let’s make Ciri like that.” In case you forgot during that 20 week binge, Ciri spends months training with Yennefer before she can even do anything.

If I had to wager a guess, you did read it and then actively decided to ruin it. You took 90% of the content, threw it in the trash, and made your own weird fan fiction, and you have the audacity to call it an adaption of the Witcher. No, you were heavily inspired by it. Adapt it? No, you did not do that. This isn’t the first time you’ve done this. You did it to the Defenders by Marvel. Calling it an adaption is nice legal speak/contract speak, and man, paying off the author a fat sum to call it good? That’s classy.

The best parts of the Witcher have nothing to do with you. Henry Cavill is the reason Geralt is so well received. His physicality and what he brings to the role is so much more than the atrocious writing that plagues his character. A) He’d never use Ciri as bait. Period. B) He’d never say “I will kill Yennefer.” If he did, that’s because the Yennefer you created is some sort of monstrosity and has nothing to do with the actual character.

Elves are not innocent beings, they are just as monstrous and murderous as humans. There should be only 4 witchers at Kaer Morhen, not the 15 or so random dudes that then get randomly killed off during the final episode. “Lambert, Lambert, what a prick!” You switched up the identities of Eskel and Lambert, and as aforementioned, killed off Eskel.

It’s like you decided to pervert as many characters as you could, to change them drastically to whatever messed up vision you thought you had in mind. Vilgefortz, Cahir, Tissaia, Calanthe, Rience, Nenneke, Phillipa Eilhart, and even Nivellen, all of these were made into subversions of what they are. Oh, Geralt and Ciri don’t care that Nivellen let a vampire massacre an entire village of people but draw the line that he raped a priestess 13 years ago. Yes, that one act for which he repented as best as he could is far, far worse than letting entire families get massacred. Yes, I understand Lauren.

“When I talk about The Witcher, I always talk about how these three characters coming together — Geralt, Ciri, and Yennefer — they come together as a family. It’s the most important part of the series for me,” Hissrich said.

Right, so in what world do they come together as a family? Yennefer betrayed both Ciri and Geralt in your fan world, Geralt thought and considered killing Yen. In what world, would Ciri ever trust Yen again? How would Geralt? Well, you see, in my finale, through the power of love and family, we get Ciri to return to Geralt and Yen and break free of the mind possession by a demon. Yen heroically sacrifices herself by slitting her wrists allowing the demon to possess her instead. Together, my newfound family sends the demon back where it came from while establishing that the Wild Hunt is searching for Ciri. FAMILY! All that’s missing is Vin Diesel appearing on screen saying “we are family.”

Hold up! Why is there a demon running around amok? The first witchers would have killed it, or exorcized it, not trapped it in a tomb that anyone could find. Oh well, this isn’t the Witcher. This is Netflix’s low fantasy drama that happens to share a similar name.

So to end, I don’t care that you didn’t follow the book’s events or plot, or narrative. Shit happens. I do care that you keep calling it the Witcher when it’s only that in name only. Everything else has been stripped of its original identity, and watered down to a shell of what it is. A better title for the show would have been The Hexer.

And to Henry Cavill, or MyAnna Buring, you guys were phenomenal and tried your best, and I want you to know, in the words of the great movie, Good Will Hunting, “It’s not your fault.”

The blame is solely on Lauren’s shoulders who is entitled to her artistic impression.

TV Shows

Hellbound

I can understand the critical love for this show, it is masterfully helmed and well crafted. The characters are strong, rounded, and believable. Humanity reacts in a predictable manner when masterfully manipulated by psychology under the guise of religion and the unexplainable. Being marked by so called angels for death, and then being brutally beaten to a pulp before burned away out of existence, is an interesting concept. Six episodes was far too short to explore such an idea, and I hope season 2 delivers. The cliffhanger was the only time it got truly interesting for me.

I understand the allure of telling emotional stories, playing with the viewers’ heartstrings to get audience immersion, and nobody does it like the Koreans do, but man! This felt like one of those Hollywood movies crafted solely for an Oscar… Except for the sheer brutal violence. It is over the top, and gory, and just feels like it’s there for the sake of being there. It wasn’t done tastefully, it was too much. I looked away every time. Perhaps that was the intent, to showcase how some would look on in glee, while others away. Perhaps, like all media, there’s social programming plugging away at you. Desensitizing you to the brutality of it all. I would have liked this show if they did away with the horrific acts committed by entities to humans, and just shown the after effect of the burned bodies. I don’t need to see a man or woman brutalized against the ground, pavement, or other.

I would have enjoyed the story way more if it focused on the supernatural element as the forefront plot point. Yes, yes, humans will create their own religion and groups to make meanings of events they don’t understand. I wanna see an exploration into these demonic entities, research some ancient libraries, make a special government team for it. But, that wouldn’t draw people in as strongly as small interknit stories between specific individuals that shape the world, and the small people affected by such decisions.

Overall, yes, it’s a good show, not denying that. I, myself, didn’t like it.

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

Dune 2021

I grew up on reading Frank Herbert’s Dune series as a young child, so naturally, I looked forward to a movie rendition. Maybe it won’t be as bad, or rather as silly as the David Lynch one. Thankfully it’s not. But it has a worse cardinal sin when it comes to telling a story… It needs to tell a story. Denis Villeneuve clearly forgot about that aspect when making this movie. It’s nearly three hours long, and in that time, the main character only goes from his home world, to landing in Arrakis, to meeting up with the Fremen people and then it ends. The character development along the way only exists for the main character, Paul Atreides, and everyone else merely exists at a superficial and severely underdeveloped level. His father is a two dimensional character, as is his weapons master, and his friend Duncan, and his mother is a witch and that’s about it. Oh, and the family doctor who has some sort of connection to them but it’s not really clear or developed, and the gender-switched Fremen character. It seems that in Denis’ own words, “My team and I devoted more than three years of our lives to make it a unique big screen experience.” that he had forgotten to develop the story! Instead he focused on worldbuilding visuals, so many visuals.

The first 2 hours feels like, “here’s some visuals, enjoy! Oh, and listen to this sweet soundtrack! Oh and look at this world that I’ve envisioned! Just look at it all! Isn’t it so pretty?” And the whole time you’re left thinking, “is the story gonna go somewhere?” And just as it finally starts to get interesting, oops, it’s the end. As a character says, “it’s just the beginning.” Sorry to be frank here, but screw you for blue balling the hell out of me with that cliffhanger. Maybe if you made the two movies back to back, and weren’t contingent on making profit on this movie before making the second, I’d have a different opinion. As it stands, this movie on its own, is a testament to not putting visuals before story. First, have a strong and satisfying ending, then focus on what visuals you want to show. And the teasing! About to show a cool reference that’s in the book, a really sweet worm riding experience? Nope, blue balls! That’s not happening, but you thought it was gonna happen, and so now you have an idea what’ll happen in the next movie. Seems Denis Villeneuve just wants to fucking tease the hell out of everyone.

The only two that stand out for acting were Rebecca Ferguson, and Stellan Skarsgard as Paul’s mother and the Baron Harkonnen respectively. Stellan under all that make-up and effects was truly a horrific person and monstrous. Rebecca did a great job as a woman dealing with being both mother to the supposed chosen one, and trying to be a witch for her religion/beliefs. I severely disliked Timothee Chalamet as Paul Atreides, all I could see was a bourgeoisie rich prick, and not a boy struggling with the idea of being years of careful cultivated breeding and religious propaganda resulting in a Jesus like figure. Yes, let us continue the practice of hiring wealthy and rich well-connected actors instead of those that brought themselves up to a higher degree by their own bootstraps.

The rest of the cast, without me being attacked by the culturally over-sensitive crowd, the Fremen people should have been cast with Arabic actors in the roles. I’ve always felt that Frank Herbert was clearly inspired by Islamic culture and Arabic culture with those characters that he wrote. But Hollywood sees them as the bad guys so they probably thought that it would hurt their profits to do so. And what is really woke and hip to that culturally over-sensitive crowd? Yup, casting black actors wherever they can. That sells.

In closing, I really hope that a second movie is indeed made as then I will gladly change my review to accommodate the fact that the story has an actual ending. And maybe character development. It honestly reminded me of the recent Final Fantasy 7 remake game in which they took roughly 30 minutes of the original game and stretched it out into a full 40 hour game. In which that Denis Villeneuve took what should take 40 minutes plot-wise and stretched it out into nearly 3 hours of visuals. I would have preferred details like that the family doctor cannot hurt his patients because of mental conditioning but due to mental and psychological torture by the Harkonnens, that is why he can. Maybe a bit more on Duncan instead of him being simply a warrior figure. Maybe a bit more than just flashes to his desert life period as one of the Fremen. And lastly, maybe not using these giant – clearly looking like they were 3D printed – costumes of armor for everyone. Why not go the route of simple military fatigues and ceremonial dressing?

Overall, I only recommend it so I can cure my blue balls. By which I mean that they get a profit large enough to warrant a second movie to help alleviate that problem.