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25 October 2014

Current TV Shows Evaluation

For some reason the current TV season looks bad, and I'm not even talking about quality because we almost never had quality on TV at this time of year. The problem in TV today that it seems boring, overhyped and simply difficult to stay still and find a decent couple of shows to pass more than 2 hours in a week.
Let’s go a bit deeper and check out what exactly we got on our watch list in order to diagnose each and every show.

Agents of Shield

Like you all remember I was not a fan of Agents of Shield’s first season. The show got a bit better towards the end but still to this day I struggle to understand how it get renewed for season 2. Season 2 introduced a few new faces and seemed to be improving from being simply bad in season 1 to somehow watchable in season 2. All that changed when I saw episode 5 which introduced the Mockingbird (Adrianne Palicki). Palicki brought a presence of something big to the show, similar to what Jaime Alexander brought in one of the episodes in season 1. From now on Agents of Shield look pretty promising out of a sudden (when I say promising I mean the show is OK- watchable, don’t mistake it for being good at least at this point in time).

Gotham

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DC Comics Logo

22 October 2014

Why Need for Speed Crashed and Burned

Need for Speed Review

Need for Speed was directed by Scott Waugh, Waugh got to use Aaron Paul, Dominic Cooper, Imogen Poots, Rami Malek and Michael Keaton. Waugh who didn’t do anything in the last 9 years was rusty at best. The film had no director’s signature or any direction for that matter. The cast doesn’t get out from it clean either, Aaron Paul was a big shot in Breaking Bed but this Vin Diesel part was way over his head. Imogen Poots had a few funny segments but nothing more than that. Michael Keaton was in this film as well unfortunately until this point I fail to understand what was his purpose in it? Or why did he agree to appear in it.

Before watching this film as a former gamer who used to burn way too many hours playing the older versions of the Need for Speed game, I was wondering how this film can really work? I came to the conclusion that flashy cars, police chases and street races are a must that the film makers automatically bring to the film. But all those elements won't make the film remember able or any good. The Need for Speed games never had a lead character that the gamers connected to. So the film makers had a lot of maneuvering in character and the films plot. There was nothing holding back Need for Speed in a sense of the plot and its lead characters. The question was what direction EA and DreamWorks will go for making the film a success and a contra to the successful franchise like the Fast and the Furious.
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Need for Speed Game

08 October 2014

The Strain Season 1 - Great Idea Bad Execution

The Strain Season 1 Review

As a fan of the vampire genre there was no way I was going to miss on Guillermo Del Toro's The Strain. After the abortion that the vampire fans suffered from the Twilight saga in the past and currently have to endure from the Vampire Diaries. The Strain presented itself as a show that was going in the right direction. The Strain massively advertised itself as a show that will finally make the vampires scary again. After watching the entire first season of the show The Strain’s vampires look a lot scary compared to what we got used from seeing in the last few years but what about everything else that the show had to offer?

03 October 2014

Transformers Age of Extinction an Epic Fail

Transformers Age of Extinction Review

Transformers directed by Michael bay with a completely new human cast of actors that included Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz, Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer and T.J. Miller. Was an interesting idea, using the fresh cast trying to implement the same old concept from the previous films. Unfortunately it had zero affect because after all the humans were never the real stars of the transformers franchise.
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Transformer logo
Transformers Started with a solid exposition introducing all the new human characters and the new world order where a black ops division of the CIA led by Kelsey Grammer made it their mission to destroy all Autobots, to protect the human race. That's fine but after half an hour everything started falling apart. Kelsey Grammer was using some new transformer to kill all the Autobots, say what? Didn't he want get rid of them all? if we ignore that and swallow in the team up between Kelsey Grammer and the new transformer the movie was actually fluent and fun just until Michael bay decided to kill off Lucas (T.J. Miller). With Miller in the mix the film was not really taking itself seriously and it was actually fun. The moment he died you would think to yourself: "what just happened" worrying not only about the fun that Miller brought to the film but trying to figure out how could his death help the entire plot of the film to develop. I will share a secret with you all, Miller's death didn't do anything, it made the film a lot harder to watch.
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Optimus Prime

26 September 2014

Syfy's Z Nation Vs. AMC's The Walking Dead

Syfy’s Z Nation was supposed to be The Walking Dead's cheaper version. In reality what we got was a series that is light-years behind the original TWD in every single parameter that the shows can be compared in. It seems that Syfy managed to copy the zombies perfectly but that was the only thing Syfy managed to do right.
When people ask why is The Walking Dead is so successful? People might say there’s bunch of zombies and the main characters butcher them in various ways. Sure it's always fun to watch zombies die but if for one second you think that The Walking Dead is so successful because of the various ways zombies get killed, you are terribly mistaken. The Walking Dead is successful because they got great script that transformed into an appealing story, a fantastic cast of actors who do their job and look believable in this post-apocalyptic world. Every character on the show looks interesting with its own baggage that looks genuinely logical and interesting. TWD don’t dwell on solving the world’s problems (until the last season), they present you the Zombie new world as it is without explaining why and how the apocalypse happened they just run for their lives trying to survive and it works. Z Nation’s creators apparently was one of those guys that thought to themselves that TWD is successful because it’s fun watching Zombies get killed, unfortunately you can’t make a successful TV series around that.

Let’s compare The Walking Dead to Z Nation:

Debute scenes

Now if we look at Z Nation it's a completely different story from the get go. we open with a hospital where a bunch of scientists try creating cure apparently by injecting the same formula to 3 people  without changing a thing (who eve3r thought about that brilliant idea shouldn’t  work on TV anymore). Strangely it worked for the 3rd patient and walla we got a cure. If we ignore the stupidity of the entire thing and focus on comparing between TWD and Z Nation opening scenes we see that they have similar environment (hospital) but so different in all other aspects. While Z Nation tried fixing the world, TWD presented a situation where the main character was inserted into a completely new reality with the audience.

Cast

Majority of TWD cast were pretty much unknowns when even the familiar faces were not actors that could be really recognizable prior to TWD. Hardcore TV fanatics may remember Andrew Lincoln from the first season of Strike Back, Michael Rooker, Laurie Holden and Norman Reedus from bunch of unimportant stuff. Now if we look at Z Nation the only star power the show had was Harold Perrineau and DJ Qualls. This is an interesting point because before the show aired its main trailer featured Harold Perrineau as the lead man in this Syfy brand new show, and when we watched the pilot episode we were wondering how exactly is it that Harold (who was in Oz, Lost and the Matrix films) ended up in Z Nation? And then he died. After the initial 5 second shock suddenly everything was clear. Syfy pulled a fast one on its audience, convincing them to tune on for Z Nation to see Harold Perrineau but probably lacked the money to pay him or Harold Perrineau lacked the will to continue appearing in this series and the only losers from the entire thing were the viewers that were tricked watching the pilot, whether it’s for Perrineau or the resemblance to The Walking Dead. Great Job Syfy, I bet half of the viewers turned off their TV sets in the first 10 minutes, while the other half did it when Perrineau dropped dead. So the biggest name Z Nation has to offer is DJ Qualls, yea you heard me right it’s the goofy DJ Qualls !!! In the defense of DJ Qualls he is what he is. The problem is the remaining cast of unknowns that was probably picked off the streets of ... I can’t even imagine where can you find people with so little acting ability. The saddest part about the entire pilot was watching Perrineau messed up, bleeding out and a second later watch the camera shift to a bunch of characters that were horribly presented by bad actors and saying to yourselves in the back of your mind “No, I’m not tuning in watching those guys in episode 2”

The script and the story

TWD focuses on character development of all the characters on the show, the original ones and the characters that replaced the ones who died during the 4 seasons. Z Nation focuses ... it’s a hard one ... I don’t know what the hell is Z Nation’s main focus is. Except maybe bashing Zombie heads with maces, shovels and other creative weapons that you can find on the road. The Zombies are a secondary element in TWD while in Z Nation Zombies are everything mainly because there is nothing else, no reasonable script, not decent plot and on top of that horrible acting by everyone who is involved.

If you are a Walking Dead fan like us who thought to yourselves "Hey this Syfy's Z Nation series looks like TWD. Cool another Zombie show and Harold Perrineau from Lost is here, let’s check it out"
DONT spare yourself the pain and agony from a horrible script unbelievable story and atrocious acting. The Walking Dead season 5 is around the corner, take another few weeks to get a quality Zombie series and don’t waste your time on a show like Z Nation.

The Walking Dead Season 1-4 DVD's

23 September 2014

The Maze Runner Movie Review

To estimate the budget of The Maze Runner would be to conclude that it isn't very high, hardly on the level of the Marvel films at least, if only because it's hard to see that it would have such wide appeal. It seems like, more than anything, it was made for young people, especially younger boys, and the older crowd would be excluded from it, in a way that they would not from more generalized "four quadrant" blockbusters. Let it be said, though, that The Maze Runner is not exactly "risky" in the sense that it's piggybacking off the success of other young adult adaptations like Twilight, Divergent, The Book Thief, Ender's Game, and so on. Lacking experience with the genre, I was perhaps more surprised by this film than I should have been.
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The Maze Runner

Reservations aside, on the whole, I was entertained by it, having found that the story - simple as it was - unfolded in a comprehensible, intriguing way (if there's one thing to be said about young adult fiction, it's that it does not strive to startle with its unique artistic qualities, but rather to tell a story plainly and convincingly). Though I would regard myself as an adult, apparently I am not immune to pleasures of this kind. The protagonist is a bit one-dimensionally heroic in the same way as, say, Harry Potter, and has a similar, disconcerting lack of weakness, outside of being "too" brave or "too" independently minded, in the same way that people in job interviews claim to be "too" dedicated to their work. All the same, he is more than enough eye candy for the women who attend, and, perhaps because of his lack of personality, is easy to root for. He's kind of like a horoscope - vague enough that everybody can relate, but perhaps too vague to be especially significant to any one person. To the film's credit, the rest of the cast is more than diverse enough, with admittedly two other white males featuring prominently, but also a woman, an Asian and a black person. Of course, this might only be a shallow appeal to the international market, but I like to point out this kind of diversity when it happens, because I appreciate any kind of inclusivity of this type in mainstream film.

Video: The Maze Runner Trailer 20th Century the Maze Runner
One of the unique appeals of the movie is its visuals, especially those of the maze shifting and changing, which are startling in a way that cannot be said of anything from the nauseating, post-Bourne Hunger Games or the televisual Twilight. On the subject of the latter, the single female character in The Maze Runner (outside of the conclusive five minutes, in which new characters are introduced to explain everything that happened prior), played by Kaya Scodelario from Skins, bears a striking resemblance to Kristen Stewart, but sadly is not able to bring the same eccentric energy. The spider creatures (called the Grievers) are perhaps less well animated than the rest, but when it comes to films that are modestly budgeted, you have to pick your battles with the special effects, and I think they picked the right ones.

Toward the end, when (spoilers for people who don't understand how movies work!!!!) they escape the maze, the setting they come across brings to mind the beginning of the second Deus Ex game, which is broadly representative of the increasing synchronicity and synergism between video games and cinema. Mainstream movies are now even adopting the level based structure of mainstream games, wherein each discrete section is separated by a conclusive boss battle, and The Maze Runner provides even more evidence of the merging of the two mediums, each gradually coming to unmistakably resemble the other.

There is a lot of talk lately about how mainstream cinema has become disinterested in adults, and The Maze Runner is nothing if not further proof. It was Star Wars that changed it all, bringing us away from the complex adult characters of films like The Godfather, Bonnie and Clyde, Easy Rider and even Jaws, and toward archetypes like Luke Skywalker (hero), Princess Leia (damsel in distress), etc. We are locked into a way of thinking where every big budget movie has to follow the Joseph Campbell hero's journey - every protagonist has to be Harry Potter - but I think fatigue is beginning to set in, at least among the people who attend the cinema regularly, because Thomas (the protagonist of the film) is yet another character forced into an impossible situation which forces him to discover his secret, inherent greatness, actualized by the end of the film.

There are other ways for movies to work, and perhaps, more than anything else, what holds The Maze Runner back from being genuinely great is its disinterest in uniqueness - something which might be assumed to bolster its box office (when people only attend the cinemas a few times a year, who cares if it's unique?), but when it hasn't even come close to making back its budget, then maybe not. It's difficult not to pine for the grown-up cinema of previous generations, as it seems like the only way a mainstream director can get away with experimentalism nowadays is if they are infallible hitmakers like Stephen Spielberg or Michael Bay (say what you want about the quality of their films, but both are often eccentric).

Finally, is the Maze Runner worth seeing? I guess so, if you like that sort of thing.

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20 September 2014

Sansa Stark, Queen of Westeros

What happens to Sansa Stark?

A few months ago I posted my opinion about one of the most popular characters in Game of Thrones - Daenerys Targaryen in one of mine controversial articles Why I Hate Daenerys Targaryen. Ever since people categorized me as a women hater and said I should read the books because apparently I didn't get what George RR Martin was trying to tell his readers. They didn't understand why I didn't see the beauty of this psychopathic character that everybody love so much. Now being called a women hater by brainless militant feminists, spineless men or stoned teenagers doesn't really bother me but it hurts me that people who worship the psycho Targaryen didn't even bother to read my analysis of her character (it was a pretty good post), where I explained in depth why Daenerys Targaryen is so overrated. This is not going to be a Daenerys rant; actually this post will have little to do with mother of dragons. It will be about a character that seemed similar to Daenerys at the beginning of the story. Just like with Daenerys I was sort of ambivalent towards her because I didn’t consider her as somebody who is important enough. Now at this point (book 5 A Dance With Dragons) I start routing for her. Did you guess who I was talking about? ... Well surprise surprise it's ... 
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House Stark
Sansa Stark.

Spoilers inside 

Like we all remember Sansa Stark was a spoiled silly teenager that lived in a fairy tale world protected by her parents and the name of one of the noblest families in Westeros. At the beginning she was not important because she was overshadowed by Rob, Catelyn, Eddard and even Arya. Sansa was constantly day dreaming about lemon cakes, singers, handsome knights and all the dumb shit teenage girls dream about. The moment Eddard was arrested Sansa was finally brought to reality. Don’t get me wrong she didn't get what the harsh universe (Joffrey and Cersei) was trying to tell her because she lived too long in her imaginary world. Even when Eddard Stark lost his head Sansa didn't really grasp what happened. Instead she cocooned in herself trying to fly under the radar in blind belief that all of this is going to blow over soon, when she will be married. Unfortunately this isn't the case and right after discovering that Joffrey is marrying Margery the reflex disappointment of not becoming the Queen surfaced but immediately the disappointment transformed into joy. It took Sansa a while until she understood (or was implied) that Joffrey is not going to release her the moment he will marry Margery but instead constantly rape her just for fun of it all. 

At that moment I think she really got it, she was in a major mess from which she needs to get out no matter what.
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Sansa
Until that point many bookies considered Sansa as dumb and silly character. Sansa wasn't dumb she was scared and there is a huge difference between the two. She wasn't ready for the world to which she was exposed in the harshest way possible. That is why it took her so long to learn how to maneuver and survive in King’s Landing.

When Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish swept in Sansa was stuck (mostly thanks to Littlefinger himself) her plan to leave for Highgarden was off the table because she was to marry Tyrion and that’s when Littlefinger swept in. Baelish rescued Sansa and brought her to safe haven in the Vale. Baelish didn't do it for the kindness of his hart. Some say he sees the younger version of Catelyn in Sansa, there for he wants her for himself. Maybe it's true but only Martin knows Baelish’s real agenda. Throughout the entire a song of ice and fire saga Martin made Littlefinger one of the most mysterious, smartest and deadliest characters in the story. Every move he makes is a calculated checkmate and Sansa is lucky to stick around near the sharpest player of the game. The last few chapters of Sansa in A Feast for Crows proved that she is not that same dumb girl most bookies expected her to be, Sansa is learning. She is starts figuring out Littlefinger, something none of Baelish’s allies / enemy's managed to do so far. Sansa still needs to learn a lot from the ultimate master of the game but how long will it take? Most importantly will Sansa manage to break away from Baelish? And will she do it in time? Like I mentioned before it’s hard to read Littlefinger. One of his better qualities that allowed him to rise so high is his ability to cut through instantly. With Sansa it seems to be different, if Baelish got the hots for Sansa it makes Littlefinger wonarable and if Sansa going to play it smart she can use it for her advantage.

Lets wont forget Sansa Stark thinks that she is the only living Stark family member. That is why she feels she is the rightful heir to Winterfell and the entire North. After the events with the Frey's in the Riverlands (Edmure Tully being out of the picture, being hostage to the Lannisters) Sansa is the closest living heir in the Tully heritage line (She is the daughter of Catelyn Tully), what makes her the heir to Riverrun and the Riverlands. Even in the Vale Sansa has a sort of a claim in some circumstances. When young Robert Arryn will die there will be a battle for power in the Vale, although Lysa was Sansa's aunt,  Sansa’s claim in the Vale is very small that is why Littlefinger convinced her to marry Harrold Hardyng in order to secure the Vale through him. Whatever happens to Hardyng in the future has little difference to Littlefinger and probably to Sansa as well (although maybe Sansa is not as cold as she should be regarding issues like that) especially if Hardyng will start having ideas that won’t sit well with Littlefinger's plan, he can be easily removed.

So what do we have overall? If Littlefinger’s plan will work (they usually do, and when they don’t he makes a new one) Sansa will have control over: The North, The Riverlands and The Vale. That is a lot of power for a teenage girl that only a few years ago was in a problematic situation in King’s Landing. If Sansa reaches the goal Littlefinger set up for her what does she do next? Or what does Littlefinger do next? 
This is not a post about Littlefinger so I won’t try to guess his next move (actually I don’t have a clue what he is going to do next, he is just unpredictable) but I will try to elaborate on Sansa's options. 

In this ASOIAF world that Martin created the first rule every character needs to know is that when an opportunity presents itself you have to take it. If you don’t you will die ... soon. If you make a mistake not seizing the opportunity there is no 2nd chances here (unless you are Daenerys, she is protected by Martin himself so that rule doesn’t apply to her). At this point in time Sansa does not have the upper hand, she needs to play along, the moment she takes control over The North, The Riverlands and The Vale she takes control of her fate in her hands. From that point on she has the upper hand, and that is when she needs to take Littlefinger out just because he is such a dangerous and unpredictable character. Sansa can drag him along as she confronts the Iron Throne (The Lannisters and The Tyrels). She will confront the Iron Throne because when Littlefinger opened up to her she had the desire to play the game and taking the Iron Throne for herself for power and revange. If Sansa keeps Littlefinger around she opens herself and becomes exposed to Littlefinger who can change his plans and get rid of Sansa. Let’s assume that Sansa succeeds completing Littlefinger’s plan (at this point it doesn’t matter if it’s with Littlefinger or without him) and she confronts the South, there is a 50 / 50 chance of her taking the Iron Throne. But even if Sansa will take the Throne what will happen when Daenerys arrives with her Dragons, was all that for nothing? Seeing how Daenerys is being presented in the TV show and how overprotective Martin writes her chapters, it’s a no-brainer. Daenerys is going to take the Throne and all of us will suffer from it. I guess we will have to wait until Martin publishes The Winds of Winter (and A Dream of Spring) or wait for HBO's TV series catch up to find out who will sit on the Iron Throne, either way it’s going to be great
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photo credit: Bruno Alberto via photopin cc