Tag Archives: television

My Thoughts on: The Terror (season 1)

I was initially inclined to avoid The Terror because the premise didn’t seem to be the kind of story I would be interested. However, once I saw the entire season was up on Hulu, I decided to give it a try and I’m glad I did. The Terror, befitting its name, is terrifying.

The Terror is based on a 2007 novel by Dan Simmons and sets out to explain what really happened to Sir John Franklin’s doomed Arctic expedition, which set off in HMS Terror and HMS Erebus to find the legendary Northwest Passage and was never seen or heard from again. The story is largely based on what is believed to have happened to the expedition (the ships got caught in the ice, eventually they started to walk south, and ultimately they all died, and in all likelihood they suffered from lead poisoning).

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However, woven in-between the facts is a supernatural narrative that I found surprisingly believable. Deep down, I know monsters like the Tuunbaq aren’t real, and yet…the Arctic, especially as it appeared in the late 1840s, was so remote and so icy that it feels like the sort of place the last of the supernatural monsters would have survived. After all, man had swarmed everywhere else, it makes sense that monsters native to these cold, foreign areas, would still survive long past time time other monsters disappeared.

I really liked the inclusion of the Inuit in the story’s narrative. The Inuit’s accounts of Franklin’s expedition were derided for many years, especially their accounts of cannibalism, because of course there’s no way proper British sailors would revert to savage actions like that (read heavy sarcasm here). In The Terror however, the writers really sought to portray the Inuit properly, contrasting their ability to survive in the snowy wilderness with the complete inability of the British to survive this hostile environment (contrast Silna/Lady Silence with any of the British characters).

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One thing that surprised me is how the character of Sir John Franklin (Ciarán Hinds) departs/dies relatively early in the season. For some reason, as the leader of the expedition, I thought he would be around much longer, but the show does not suffer in his absence.

Honestly, I enjoyed first season of The Terror a lot more than I thought I would when I started the first episode. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it, because it will leave you spellbound until the bitter end.

What did you think of the first season of The Terror? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!

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My Thoughts on: A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms (GoT S8 E2)

*I know I’m going backwards here, but deep down I wasn’t expecting my review of the Battle of Winterfell to be so popular (so thank you for that). I will try to keep this review objective given that I know who makes it out of the battle alive and who doesn’t. It goes without saying that some spoilers follow.

There is so much that happens in “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” it’s hard to know where to begin. Just like the season premiere, there are multiple characters who are meeting for the first time, and some who haven’t met since season one. Most of the episode centers around everyone preparing themselves for the battle to come, knowing that there is every chance they’re all going to die. I enjoyed this episode very much, but I could always feel the tension hanging over the story.

One of my characters to follow in this episode was Jaime Lannister. From the previews, I really thought this might be it for the former Lord Commander of the Kingsguard. Jaime’s been on a redemptive arc for quite a while now, but I always had a feeling that this would not be enough to overcome his past sins (and he may yet still die before the series is over). If nothing else, I thought that Jaime would finally have a chance to explain to Daenerys why he killed her father (he’s told the story to Brienne, but I don’t think anyone else knows). That’s a scene I’ve imagined in my head many times and hopefully it may yet be told before all is said and done.

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The biggest moment by far in this episode is when Jon talks to Dany in the crypt and they have THAT conversation. I love Jon Snow, I really do, but right before the battle of the ages is NOT the time to tell your lover that you’re actually related (and you know, that he actually has a better claim to the Iron Throne than she does, never mind that he doesn’t actually want it). I expected that there would be a lot more arguing once this was revealed (hopefully they have a more in-depth conversation later).

And then I need to talk about what happened with Brienne and Jaime. For one, this scene actually made me cry (and I don’t cry easily, not for television shows anyway). For another, as awesome as this moment was, it practically guarantees that ONE of these characters will not make it to the end of the series alive. If I’ve learned anything from Game of Thrones, it’s that you don’t have happy moments like this without someone paying for it sooner rather than later. And honestly, it could easily be either Jaime or Brienne who dies in the end, or both (I don’t put that past the writers). But if both of them make it to the end of the finale alive I will be shocked.

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Lastly, I loved that we got to hear “Jenny of Oldstones” (sung by Podrick no less). Any time that one of the book’s songs is brought to life always feels special to me (I do study music after all) and this song is just beautiful. It completely brings home how everyone feels: they would rather stay in this moment, this last perfect moment together, before Death comes to rip them apart.

All in all, “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” provided the perfect set up for the battle to come. Aside from the questionable timing of a certain family connection, I really have no problems with this episode. Let me know what you thought of this episode in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

My Thoughts on: The Battle of Winterfell (GoT S8 E3)

My Thoughts On: The Last of the Starks (GoT S8 E4)

Film/TV Reviews

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My Thoughts On: Attack on Titan (season 2)

*note: fairly major spoilers follow for season 2 of Attack on Titan

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

Considering how good the first season of Attack on Titan was, it blew my mind when I discovered that the second season was even better. While season 2 is only half the length with 12 episodes, it certainly doesn’t lack for drama.

Season two picks up where season one left off and focuses almost exclusively on a mysterious Titan incursion inside Wall Rose (the second of three walls keeping humanity safe). In the process of putting down this incursion, some mind-boggling truths are uncovered about the nature of Titans. Even more shockingly, multiple humans are revealed to be hiding Titan forms. The biggest shock of all is that the attack on Shiganshina, which set the entire plot of the series into motion, was orchestrated by two Scouts who have been friends with Eren for several years! This revelation comes out of nowhere and completely cemented my love for this series (like many, I enjoy an excellent plot twist).

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Additionally, the massive Beast Titan is introduced to the story and quite honestly he looks terrifying. Unlike the other Titans we’ve seen up until this point, the Beast Titan (befitting his name), has the appearance of an ape. What’s more, he can talk like a regular person and can command regular Titans (with terrifying effect). Speaking of Titans, there’s a bit of focus on Eren learning to control his own Titan abilities, including several false starts when his attempts to summon his Titan form don’t work. But above all else in season 2, I have to praise the final battle against the Armored Titan, the Colossal Titan and a third Titan whose introduction was so well done I don’t want to spoil it (but it completely shocked me). This fight sequence builds on all the Titan battles we’ve seen up until now and raises the intensity by 100. The action, combined with the music, makes the entire sequence riveting. You can feel the raw emotion as Mikasa engages the Titans, swearing to kill them for what they’ve done. You can also feel the pain as some characters are forced to make extremely difficult decisions. There’s also an epic Titan moment that calls back to the very first episode of the series.

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As I said at the beginning, season two of Attack on Titan is even better than the first. I highly recommend this series for anyone who enjoys anime. The first half of season 3 is currently streaming on Hulu (sub only), with the second half expected to arrive later this month. Let me know what you think of season two of Attack on Titan in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

My Thoughts On: Attack on Titan (season 1)

Film/TV Reviews

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Soundtrack Review: Krypton (season 1)

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

The soundtrack for season 1 of Krypton is now available, having been released on March 8th to coincide with the season 2 premiere. The LP will release on Red/Orange Galaxy vinyl on April 13th for Record Store Day. The album features one of the hottest developing talents within the composing world for TV, Film and Games, Pinar Toprak (Captain Marvel, Justice League).

Toprak’s music for Syfy’s Superman prequel, Krypton, follows her score on the Fortnite video game; the most widely played new game in 2018. An average of 8.3 million people were playing Fortnite concurrently in November alone. After her incredible contributions of additional music to DC’s Justice League, Pinar Toprak was chosen to compose the highly anticipated Marvel movie, Captain Marvel. The first female composer to score a major comic book movie, Toprak continues to prove herself as majestic as the superheroes her music exalts.

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The score itself is beautiful and I highly recommend picking it up. Toprak balances a line between science-fiction edginess and orchestral heights. More and more often television series have scores that are equal to film scores and this shows here in the score for Krypton. I particularly liked the tracks “Seeing Kandor for the First Time” and “Welcome to the Fortress.”

Centuries before Truth, Justice and the American Way, the grandfather of Superman, Seg-El, must redeem his family’s honor in DC and SyFy hit television series KRYPTON. With a cosmic evil reaching through time to destroy the House of El before the rise of its heroic scion, can the forbearer of steel prevent the destruction of much more than just his family or is more than just the planet doomed. KRYPTON is executive produced by David S. Goyer (MAN OF STEEL, BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE and THE DARK KNIGHT trilogy).

Track listing:

1. Seeing Kandor For The First Time (00:50)
2. The Death Of Val El (1:34)
3. Bar Fight (2:41)
4. Welcome To The Fortress (2:18)
5. Your Grandson’s Cape (3:41)
6. Brainiac’s Peeking Through Rhom (2:26)
7. Kem Sweet Talks Ona (1:35)
8. Street People (1:15)
9. Seg Escapes (1:23)
10. Ona Says A Prayer (2:48)
11. Seg In The Wastelands (00:39)
12. Lyta Meditates* (1:13)
13. A Test Of Sibling* (2:12)
14. Let The Trial Begin* (4:34)
15. Meant To Save Superman (00:44)
16. Jayna Shoots The Voice (1:43)
17. Dev Awakes (00:45)
18. Sigil Means Hope (1:45)
19. Bye Bye Brainiac* (7:43)

Let me know what you think of Krypton (and it’s soundtrack) in the comments below and have a great day!

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Film Soundtracks A-W

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My Thoughts on: Slayers NEXT (Season 2) (1996)

While Slayers has a great start in season 1, it gets even better in season 2 with Slayers NEXT. All of our heroes return for more adventures and we’re introduced to even more interesting characters as Lina, Gourry and company go on more exciting (and dangerous) adventures! These new characters include:

Princess Martina of Zoana: Oh Martina, Martina…let me tell you something about Martina…she’s absolutely 100% crazy!! How so? Well, just as an example, Martina is a fervent devotee of the monster Zoamelgustar. There’s just one little problem with that…Martina made him up out of her own imagination, not that this impedes her devotion in the slightest. In fact, in one hilarious episode, Martina successfully invokes Zoamelgustar’s power to curse Lina through sheer willpower (not bad for a non-existent monster). She hates Lina with a passion for destroying her kingdom (even though it was Martina who started the trouble) and also has a habit in falling in love with every handsome man who crosses her path. Despite trying really hard to be a villain, Martina is more of a nuisance than anything else.

Xellos: This is one of the most frustrating characters you’ll meet in the series, because for most of the time he appears you’re never really sure what he’s up to or whose side he’s really on! He claims to be a traveling monk but hints are dropped repeatedly that this is far from the truth. Xellos also has an annoying habit of leading people in conversation up to a critical point and when they demand to know something important he’ll just smile and say “That…is a secret.” I’ll admit, the true identity of Xellos shocked me (though I won’t spoil it here).

Hellmaster Fibrizo: I’m pretty sure it goes without saying that if you have “Hellmaster” in your name than you are not a good person. Hellmaster Fibrizo might be one of the most sadistic characters I’ve ever seen. This is one of those characters who kills on a whim, all to get what he wants. Truthfully, you will not see this character coming, it’s one of the best villain introductions I’ve ever seen.

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A lot of the plot revolves around our heroes searching for the Claire Bible (a text containing powerful magical secrets) in the hopes that it contains some spell that can cure Zelgadis and make him human again. During this search, Lina and her friends stumble on a plot brewing among the monsters. It seems that the destruction of Ruby Eye Shabranigdu in season 1 had some far-reaching consequences and it’s up to Lina to deal with the fallout…if she can survive that is. Like season 1, Slayers NEXT gets pretty bloody in the last part of the season (not enough to be considered “gory” but there are still some fairly shocking moments).

If you enjoy season 1 of Slayers then you will absolutely love Slayers NEXT. I hope you get the chance to check it out someday. Unfortunately it’s not streaming on Hulu currently but you can get seasons of Slayers for a reasonable price on Amazon. Let me know what you think of Slayers NEXT in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

My Thoughts on: Slayers (season 1) (1995)

My Thoughts on: Slayers TRY (season 3) (1997)

My Thoughts on: Slayers Return (1996)

My Thoughts on: Slayers Great (1997)

Animated Film Reviews

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My Thoughts on: Westworld Season 1 (2016)

As a lifelong fan of the science fiction genre (so much so that I made it my specialty in graduate school), I knew it would only be a matter of time before I watched this show. I was curious from the start to see what an adaptation of the 1973 Westworld film would look like and yet I hesitated a long time before finally starting the series. I think deep down I delayed because I was afraid I wouldn’t like the story, as it is very easy to do robot/A.I. run amuck badly. But it turns out I was worried over nothing: Westworld‘s first season is sheer brilliance.

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In ten episodes, we are introduced to the unbelievably lavish park that is Westworld, a place where the obscenely wealthy can come live out whatever fantasy they desire, from the innocent pleasures of living on a homestead to more depraved activities up to and including murder and rape. The human guests can act as they please since the robotic ‘hosts’ are incapable of harming them. In such an environment, many guests let loose with repressed fantasies of murder and sexual freedom (the series comments several times that most guests come to either “shoot or f*ck” whatever they want) in a way that can be very disturbing to watch (this show does not hold back on showing blood).

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The plot is divided between several arcs that follow different characters. The primary hosts we follow are Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood), her programmed lover Teddy (James Marsden), Maeve, a saloon madam (Thandie Newton) and recurring visits from Hector (Rodrigo Santoro) and his group of bandits. On the human side, in the park, we follow the mysterious Man in Black (Ed Harris) and a newcomer to the park named William (Jimmi Simpson), whose coming to the park with Logan (Ben Barnes), his future brother in law. Outside of the park, Dr. Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins) is the director of the park and is assisted by Bernard (Jeffrey Wright). The show clearly takes place sometime in the future as the technology is far beyond anything that currently exists, but it’s not known how far in the future we are, as so far as I know, no year is ever given.

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It is clear from the first episode that there is something odd going on in the park, with the hosts in particular, but it takes almost the entire season before enough pieces come together to provide answers. That’s not a bad thing: half of the reason I love Westworld is because the fragmented plot arcs keep you guessing at the truth and eager to see the next piece of the puzzle (so to speak). And when the answers do begin to come, you start to question everything you’ve seen in the series. Not only that, there are some twists that lead you to wonder if anyone in this series is actually human. Like many films and tv series that explore the concept of A.I., the border between robots and humans becomes so thin that it is practically non-existent (unless one of the hosts has a glitch).

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Anthony Hopkins turns in a magnificent performance, a particularly favorite moment coming at the end of episode 7 “Trompe L’Oeil.” In that episode, Hopkins switches from affable to pure menace so effortlessly that I was glued to the screen for the entirety of the scene. The episode also features one of my favorite plot twists in the season, simply because there’s almost no hint that it’s coming.

If you like robots and science fiction, then I think you will enjoy Westworld season one. The plot is very well crafted and as I said before will keep you guessing almost until the end. I’m looking forward to watching season two.

Final thoughts:

-I ended up feeling sorry for the Man in Black by the end of the season. Even though he was warned multiple times that what he was searching for wasn’t meant for him, he persists anyway and is eventually disappointed.

-Teddy (James Marsden) has so many death scenes it’s almost ridiculous. To be fair though, he pulls it off beautifully each time.

-I can’t stand Logan (Ben Barnes) and I feel like he deserves everything he gets.

What do you think of the first season of Westworld? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!

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Film/TV Reviews

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Film 101: Unreliable Narrator

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

Yesterday in talking about the Rashomon effect I mentioned the term ‘unreliable narrator’ and I thought I would go into more detail about it today. This concept is one that has grown incredibly popular in recent years and is responsible for one of the biggest television hits of the 21st century.

The concept is simple enough at first glance: an unreliable narrator is any character who relays information about the story (either to the audience or another character (often serving as the audience surrogate)) that is untrue or a series of half-truths mixed together. In short, you cannot trust what this character says to be the truth. And as this character often serves as THE narrator (more or less) of the film/series/book, it makes the story that much more interesting because (assuming you are aware they are unreliable) the entire time you are wondering if you can believe anything being told to you.

 

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To really understand this concept though, you have to keep in mind that the unreliable narrator is, in my opinion, a relatively recent development. For most of film history, the narrator (if there is one) is a figure above reproach, one that will consistently let us (the audience) know what is really going on and who is doing what. It seems that the studios discovered that having an unreliable narrator made for a good story. Of course they weren’t the first: the big television hit I referred to at the beginning was none other than HBO’s Game of Thrones, which of course is based on George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series (that may or may not ever see completion, I finished reading A Dance with Dragons almost FIVE years ago). The books are notorious for having no overarching narrator that you might find in other book series. Instead, each chapter is told from one character’s point of view, meaning everything we see is biased by the perceptions of that character. Since none of the characters know the full picture (except for maybe Varys and I’m not sure even he knows about what’s going on north of the Wall), you can’t fully trust (and in the case of some like Littlefinger, not at all) what these characters see/know/think they know. And this mostly carries over to the TV show.

Other good examples of an unreliable narrator in film include:

  • Fight Club (1999): It turns out that only one of the two main protagonists actually exists, the other is in the main character’s head.
  • A Beautiful Mind (2001): The main character is eventually diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and it turns out several characters we’ve come to know are not real.
  • Atomic Blonde (2017): It could be said this film has several examples as the “true” story does not come out towards the end. Lorraine, being the main character, is probably the chief example as her search for “Satchel” is revealed to be based on a lie

And that’s pretty much what an unreliable narrator is 🙂 What are some examples of an unreliable narrator that you can think of? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day 🙂

See also:

Film 101

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