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The "Threshold" Episode of Short Treks
This is almost as insane as the Star Trek Voyager season 2 episode "Threshold" which goes beyond all previous limits for high comedy and insanity in Trek. In that Episode, Tom Paris, when trying to accomplish one thing, ends up doing something entirely unexpected, and it just elevates from that point, up until the last second of the episode.
Same thing here.
When we first see Edward, we think, "Who IS this Idiot"? But that is just the start of the debacle.
I'm glad this was merely a short Trek, I could not have tolerated the induced laughter if this were a full length episode.
And of course it is great to see the continued tales involving Captain Pike and the original crew of the Enterprise.
For All Mankind (2019)
A most incredible piece of speculative fiction and alternate history
To all of the fake accounts giving this show a one star: Get stuffed. Really, go back to freaking Breitbart and complain about it there, you don't like entertainment in general anyway so why are you here?
What we have here is a single person pretending to be 20 to 50 different people all giving the same exact one star review, while at the same time down voting any positive review. This activity is really tiresome and I have been telling IMDb repeatedly that we are tired of seeing this garbage.
Go back to Reddit and 8chan.
When the episodes for the show are rated up to 9.0 and the show itself is rated 6.6, you know that there's been some buggery going on with fake IMDb accounts. They did/are doing the same thing to Watchmen.
Ronald D Moore from deep space nine hasn't done this good a job since deep space nine and battlestar Galactica.
The show gives an accurate depiction down to the last detail of exactly what would've happened had the Russians beat the United States to the moon.
I mean, there would still be a "space race" going on today- this is exactly what would have happened.
The show also accurately depicts the way Nixon treated Werner von Braun, without which none of our rockets would have gone 1 inch into the atmosphere.
Follows the comic book rather than the film
Once I understood that, several scenes made more sense to me such as the raining squid.
This series starts out a little bit slow but halfway into the second episode things just start clicking into place.
Jeremy Irons appears to be the perfect person to play the aging Adrian Veidt. Keep an eye on his two assistants, nothing is as it seems.
The history that we missed between the ending of the comic book and the beginning of the show unravels itself through the episodes of this series, so at first we don't know what the hell is going on but little by little we get a picture of what exactly happened.
By the time episode three comes around, be prepared for a familiar person (but not face) to join the show.
The big mystery is exactly who does Lou Gossett Junior represent here? And that is another story that unravels as each episode goes by.
Don't understand the negative reaction to this, this is done very well.
We also get to see the return of a familiar vehicle that a certain watchmen used to fly around. But that is not the only gadget in this series.
in a way, this show parallels what is happening in this country right now except to a more pronounced degree. Ghod help us if it ever gets as bad as this, we will need masked vigilantes.
Farscape: Rhapsody in Blue (1999)
Best Episode of Season 1
And it has something that many people overlook: This episode has some of the best music by Braedy (Spelling?) and Chris Neal aka "SubVision".
Subvision offered Farscape an appropriately outrageous soundtrack for each of the episodes they provided content for. When Guy Gross took over during "The Way We Weren't", the music suddenly took a traditional turn that did not match the imagery or tone we were seeing. He did create new Theme music for the show that had interesting Homages to SubVision, but Gross was basically a traditional composer, while SubVision created not only musical sounds, but interesting textures of sounds and sound effects that matched the strangeness we were seeing week after week. It was a stark, unexpected and unwelcome change for the show. When they left the show, they were missed, and they also unexpectedly vanished from existence, they did no more work after Season 2's "Crackers Don't Matter". That was it, no more SubVision. I've never heard any reason why they suddenly vanished, it's a mystery.
This episode had the strongest SubVision music, 2nd only to to "Jeremiah Criton" as far as 1st Season soundtracks go.
Regarding this episode, it begins with a surreal , shared set of soggy dreams accompanied by an elongated Starburst from Moya.
It seems Moya's crew were summoned by one of Zotah Zha'an's people, a "Woman" who wanted something from Zha'an but went about asking for it in the most utterly wrong way possible. Criton starts remembering a woman he was having a fling with before he became an astronaut, and those memories keep changing. As do the perceptions of Aeryn and Ka D'argo and Rygel. Something is rotten, but this is not Denmark.
We learn things about Zha'an that make her less Goddesslike, more Human. Her kind and giving nature this time puts her in a spot of real trouble.
But mostly we get to see how Delvian conflicts are resolved,: With Delvians, things are never how they originally seem. There is a lot of subtlety in this episode, that's how Delvians are. There is also Hypocrisy. But it is all hidden beneath a false presentation of Piety.
Ironically, it's Criton who sees the impropriety, even through the constantly changing memories of the woman "Alex".
Thanks to the Blue Ray version of this show, there is some startling imagery in this escapade of the Uncharted Territories.
Red Dragon (2002)
A Francis Dolarhyde with more depth
As much as I was a fan of "Manhunter" with William Peterson and Tom Noonan, this film elevates the character of Francis Dolarhyde (Ray Fiennes) to a level of depth and humanity that he lacked in the first Version of this film.
There are several remarkable things about this film including an origin story showing one of the incidents that was described in silence of the lambs, namely the flute player Benjamin Raspail and how he was dealt with by Hannibal Lecter.
It also shows FBI agent Will Graham ( Edward Norton) figuring out exactly what Lecter had been doing.
You have yet another version of Jack Crawford, this time played by Harvey Keitel. But the humanizing of Francis Dolarhyde was pushed further by showing his relationship with colleague Reba McLane (Emily Watson), which shows us the possibility that Dollarhide wasn't a black and white character he was a human and he even had second thoughts about what he was doing. This is in stark contrast to the way Tom Noonan play the same character, as strictly evil.
There are plenty of Brett Ratner's favorite actors in this, he always uses them in his movies, such as Ken Leung, Brenda Strong and Bill Duke as well as another actor who always shows up, William Lucking.
All the old favorites are back, we have Barney, we have Dr. Chilton, played by Frankie Faison and Anthony Heald ( Anthony plays a psychiatrist similar to Dr. Chilton in the X-Men three film, also directed by Ratner.
This film basically takes a lot of the scenes from Manhunter and develops them a little further and in some cases doing exact homages to them, but it is the added depth and the expanded Hannibal Lecter storyline that makes it interesting and plants this film directly into the Hannibal Lecter franchise as a film of some importance.
There was a woman in one of the scenes where the FBI agents are discussing things and I recognized her as being Elizabeth Dennehy, who helped beat the Borg in Star Trek the next generation. Also the sister of another Dennehy. Finally take notice of the conductor at the scene at the beginning that is none other but Lalo Schifrin, The composer of the original mission impossible theme.
The best Babylon 5 "Movie"
If you consider that "Third Space" might be the second best.
There are many reasons why this standalone Babylon 5 "episode" put out by Turner the year after Babylon 5 ended it's "five year mission" is the absolute best of the entire series and standalone "films "and other related Babylon 5 spinoffs, Martin Sheen is of course being the best reason, the reappearance of Michael Garibaldi is another. Other interesting things appear like Ian McShane as a thoroughly unstable scientist, and of course the best reason, Tracy Scroggins as a Lockley Hologram with less clothes on.
What this particular "episode" of Babylon 5 has got going for it, and this is something that has been part of Babylon 5 for a long time, is that we have a very dark and mysterious story intertwined with high comedic elements, and they work together here as well as they did during the series in general. This is just a point that I diffidently need to remind the other so-called Babylon 5 fans here, that comedy plus dark elements were part of the structure of the series from the very beginning, including "The Gathering". So I really don't understand why they are complaining about the mixture HERE, where the production of Babylon 5 had more room to explore these facets in an "elongated" episode.
And of course, after a disturbing "grave robbing" seen that involved McShane, we get into the comedy elements before we realize something else is not quite right: there is a "holobrothel" on Babylon 5, however, these are not at all like the holosuites owned by Quark on Deep Space Nine, which I am pretty sure that this is a reference and homage to in the first place- because of the fact that this holobrothel appears to be put together by scotch tape and paper clips, whereas in Deep Space nine they used cutlery and a metal ladle as conductive elements (see deep space nine episode "our man Bashir".)
So we have this almost high comedy routine between Lockley and the crooked brothel owner "Jacob Mayhew" played by Joel Brooks, and even a triangle of sorts at that when you add in the antics of ambulance chasing lawyer "James Riley" played by Stuart Pankin, which is traditional comedy of the variety that we used to have in the 1930s pre-code films, and don't forget the involvement of Zack (Grease's Jeff Conway, rip).
With this circus in place, in steps Dr. Robert Bryson (McShane), Who was being paid by Garibaldi's former boss to look for eternal life, and you think he is going to add more comedy into this farce but instead he has something that used to belong to a race that we have only seen twice before: the Soul Hunters.
Enter Martin Sheen as the Soul Hunter.
The only soul Hunter we had ever met previously was the one who was after Delenn- in the very second episode of the Babylon 5 series played by William Morgan Sheppard, an actor eccentric enough to portray that particular soul hunters instability.
And it is surprising to find out that the soul hunter portrayed by Martin Sheen is not at all unstable. In fact he is a "young" soul hunter, he is very idealistic about the work that he does and he defends what the soul hunters do to Lockley in a very reasonable manner, although she has good arguments as to why souls should not be trapped and kept in dark whisper galleries.
Many of the things that we previously knew about soul hunters were actually shown in this episode, including the violation of one of their sanctuaries for souls.
So on one hand we have this farce including a holographic brothel and it's faulty wiring and the owners scummy lawyer, and then we have this quite marvelous tale of the soul hunters and the fact that they may have made a certain prideful mistake.
Just remember "the mind sees what it needs to see"- Dr. Franklin appears briefly not as himself but as one of those mental apparitions that Lockley needed to see.
What I liked mostly about this particular Babylon 5 "movie" is that it happens after the events of the television series and so there are no appearances by President Sheridan or Delenn, or Gkar and Londo, this is just life on Babylon 5 after the events of the series, life goes on, even though we know that there are Drakk milling about the galaxy waiting to pounce on Earth with one of the shadow Planet killers- which happens in another one of these made for TV by Turner Babylon 5 movies.
Although I have explained some of the interactions of this episode, I have not gone into detail about those, so no, I am not going to check spoilers.
Dark Phoenix (2019)
A better take on The Dark Pheonix Saga
I don't understand the slagging this film has been taking, I think this is one of the best X-Men films of the last 20 years.
Since the first X-Men film, and the liberties taken with popular storylines and characters, I had to learn how to be comfortable with those changes. And as I actually liked "X-III The Last Stand" (The best part being Magneto lifting up the Golden Gate Bridge to lay it across to Alcatraz), I was wholly disappointed with that film's take on The Dark Phoenix, in that film, The Dark Phoenix was watered down, changed into something she was NOT. However, that film is Homaged in this one in several places, with Dialogue hijacked from X-III, and the aftermath of one of Phoenix' Powers. LOOK for it! But this version has more elements from the actual Dark Phoenix crossover, it is true to the Extraterrestrial origins of the Phoenix, and the inclusion of Alien Antagonists. And it has that aspect of X-Men fighting X-Men like the comic version has. The Dark Phoenix saga, at least in Comic form, ripped the X-Men to shreds. But this telling is less of a comic book version, this version has stark realism.
Production-wise 20th Century Fox has used every trick in their well stocked playbook of special effects, including practical effects. It is difficult to identify the CGI here, other than the obvious Raven-Morph, which still uses techniques that mirror the way that looked in the 2000 X-Men film, when Mystique was played by Rebecca Rojmin-Stamos. But here, the production goes way over the top. We finally get to see things that were only depicted in the Comic Books. And it was all done well. and we still have several things we have seen before, Cerebro and the X-Jet.
As far as our 1st Class X-Men Team, all that is left is Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) and Beast (Nicholas Hoult). I am a bit disappointed that a few characters did not make it to this film, such as "Banshee" being gone since X-Men Apocalypse. But ever since "First Class", The X-Men have been consistent. Be prepared in this film for another disappointment along those lines, I was rather surprised when it happened. The "Aliens" in this film led by VOK (A reference to the White Klingon "Voq" from Discovery? Played by Jessica Chastain) are something I'm not familiar with. They are not readily identified, as I was partially expecting the SHI'IAR to finally make an entry into this story, as they were part of the original crossover, and there was even a romantic thing for Charles with an alien with a cool haircut named Lilandra. But she never appeared. Also expected, because it was teased in Apocalypse, was Mister Sinister- But there was not a peep about him.
This film appears to be an ending of the franchise, as there was no After Credits Teaser. But neither was there one in Avengers Endgame. But there has been talk of a new phase for Marvel, and I suppose some of those previously seen after credit scenes will never be referenced. I hope that at some point we get to see how Mister Sinister fits into the Marvel Universe, but I guess, not yet. Also, The X-Men cannot interact with The Avengers, until Disney can get permission to use the X-Men characters. It was a miracle that Spiderman was allowed to be included.
But I really can't comprehend the negative reaction to this. as there were so many things that were great. The imagery was excellent, the familiar aspects were familiar, the acting superb, and I just don't believe this film was so badly received. It is as if the press reactions to films these days are being dictated from Reddit or 4-8chan. One thing I have learned about Reddit and 4-8chan: if there is a huge Pogrom on Reddit about how "bad" something is, then we must RACE to watch it. This is the philosophy I have lived by for the last 6 years or so, and it has never failed me. AND, if they hated the film so much, WHY did they waste NO time rushing to their computer keyboards or hand devices to post several 1-star reviews (pretending to be several people, but actually being just ONE person) containing "Bulleted Lists" of complaints? Wrong, people who truly hate something, are not prone to waste that kind of time. Also you can tell by the incoherent language of such reviews, it's simply not the proper use of English spelling and grammar. Ergo, #Trolls. And then these same trolls use their 50 fake IMDb accounts to pretend IMDb is Reddit and "Downvote" any positive reviews of a film, so that the negative reviews all float to the top? This activity is not just with Marvel films, it's been happening all over. It's not as if we don't have an Impeachment-Ready (white/orange house) resident that encourages this activity, and we can blame Steve Bannon for it, and Breitbart.
Getting back to the film, I am pleased with how the gang of characters created with the "new" actors playing younger version of the ones we met in 2000 are slipping in to their roles. And we have seen more and more of the periphery X-Men, Psylocke in the last one, and Dazzler in this one. And ever since "Apocalypse", we have had fewer and fewer cameos from the "older" X-Men. and this time, no Wolverine at all. maybe Dan Radcliffe SHOULD be Wolverine? I would welcome THAT in an instant!
But in the end, this X-Men film has a very sad but hopeful ending, and an image of two friends playing a particular strategy game- and the hope that, The Phoenix will rise again, in Fire.
The Expanse (2015)
Can't believe this was Syfy Channel
And, in true Syfy form, of course they cancelled the series right in the middle of an important season apparently - If I understand the trivia section correctly. Thankfully Amazon took over and did a fourth season, maybe they will do more- that would be great.
The most impressive actress in this show has been Shohreh Aghdashloo, who I first saw in X-Men 3. She always had little cameos in these films, but in this show, gee character drives a lot of the motivation and direction of the series. She does not really participate in the final season 3 episodes, not being trapped in the ring with everyone else, but her fingerprints are all over the politics that brought Earthers, Martians and Belters to a common table.
This show reminds me of Larry Niven's "Belter" stories, and his known space series of books which goes all the way back to stories of Gil "The Arm", who was a Belter who moved to earth and became a police officer for the "amalgamation of regional militia" aka ARM, Beowulf Schaeffer who had a relationship with puppeteers and flew a couple of their different general products ships, one of them into the center of the galaxy discovering that it had exploded. another to an antimatter planet (and apparently GP Hulls cannot tolerate Anti-Matter)- and his possible son Louis Wu via his GF Tanya Wu (See the book "Flatlander" by Niven) aka "Luweewu" who flew to the Ringworld and was last seen hanging out with the former "Hindmost" of the Puppeteers after saving the Ringworld from destruction, Protectors (3rd stage humans who become too smart and only are interested in preserving their own bloodline, so they always fight each other, killing everybody else in the process) and an ARM navy that was stupidly fighting each other with antimatter weapons around the orbit of the Ringworld.
But that is a huge universe created by a different author. This series of books and this show based upon those books, is restricted to our own solar system and the governments of Earth Mars and the Belt which does not really have a government.
And so we see a lot of things that also exist in the Larry Niven Known Space universe: including the mining of asteroids in the belt, or minerals and water, and the idea of Terra-forming Mars. Even the "Belter Haircuts" and tattoos of Niven's work are here. Ships landing on earth use compressed air like they do in Niven's book "World of Ptavvs", rather than using rockets. In the belt, the "Epstein Drive" is used rather than Niven's Fusion Drives. But there is still a lot of material borrowed from Niven's known space. But that's not a bad thing.
But one thing that is different about this universe is that so far, The descendants of mankind who have populated the solar system have not really encountered any possible alien life-until now.
And the concept of life that is thought up in this show is very different- in fact in 2 1/2 seasons, I still can't figure out the nature of that life form.
Thomas Jane is a Ceres cop, who is given the job of locating the daughter of a rich industrialist, Julie Mao (Father named Jules)- she is the centerpiece of the series for the first season and a half or so- even though she doesn't really appear or interact with any of the other characters other than in flashback sequences. In fact the entire first season is a search for her among other things. Thomas Jane is Joe Miller, the Ceres Cop, and has made finding her his obsession because maybe it's the one good thing that he's ever done and he becomes so absorbed in finding her it causes problems with some of the other people in this series.
Also there are quite a bit of politics in the show, sometimes directly relating to our own politics of this day, and a lot of this is extremely relevant.
We also have four people, Jim Holden, Alex Kamal, Naomi Nagata and Amos Burton, who through no fault of their own become the crew of a ship that they have named The Rocinante, they were all crew members a board a ship called The Canterbury, sent out on a rescue operation which also just so happened to involve Julie Mao...
And they become an important part of the story as well eventually Joe Miller gravitates toward them - and so does every other problem in the solar system it would seem.
Later, other crew members include a gunnery sergeant from Mars and a botanist from Ganymede- and maybe even his daughter, which she lost track of during a catastrophe on Ganymede.
I'm not sure if this show is going to continue into a fifth season, but if they can make a fifth season as interesting as the first three that I have seen, then I will definitely watch it.
There are a lot of actors that I don't recognize except for Tom Jane who was The Punisher, he is a little older now but he still looks great even with the beard, and Florence Faivre who was a very nasty piece of work Kree soldier in Agents of SHIELD, she's the one that had those two floating balls that killed people, eventually killed off by Quake in a most satisfying way...
Sometimes there are stupid decisions and arguments in some of these episodes which make me want to strangle the characters when I see it, but so far I like how things have worked out tween them, the crew of the "Roci" are friends, and this show depicts a very realistic friendship between these people. The small conflicts between each of them at the beginning of the show shows how people from all kinds of backgrounds could become good friends under the right circumstances.
There are all kinds of other things going on, on earth, on Mars, On Ships various places in the solar system, and especially at a base called Tycho where the Mormons are building an incredibly huge ship called The Navoo... that is just another problem.
The Biogenes return
From "Statistical Probabilities"
And it was kind of fun to see them return to DeepSpace Nine, the way that they do it was kind of unique, they sneak in under the radar, but in plain sight.
Hilary Shepard who plays Lauren, always looks magnificent as this character. But the real highlight here was Faith Salie as "Serina"- it is like a light switch being flipped.
This episode is mostly about her. All I can say about this character is that the title of the episode matches what happens to the character.
And that brings me to my very minor complaint. This episode is a lot of fun up until about halfway, and then Bashir gets totally sidetracked. Probably because there was no more Jadzia for him to pine over, all of a sudden this episode is no longer an episode involving the genetically modified people, suddenly their characters are no longer the focus, and something else happens, everything gets suddenly very deep and in some cases tiresome, and we can understand something that Sarina does in this episode, because we feel it.
I was hoping that the Biogenes would do something totally off or crazy like they did the first time they appeared, but after about halfway through, their appearance in this episode is reduced to practically nothing. Of course Bashir needs to consult them because something happens that they are familiar with, but that is basically the last time that we ever see them.
It's not that I didn't like this episode but that it should have included more of the Biogenes. Mainly it's about Bashir making another incredibly stupid mistake (again).
And we've had plenty of those kinds of episodes, this episode had so much potential but it didn't live up to all of it. But it did provide some extremely unique interactions.
And of course, the universe is too heavy!
Red Planet Mars (1952)
What a pile of dren
I was hoping this was some early space exploration film, it starts off fairly interesting with alleged messages from Mars, coupled with images of the unexplained loss of the Martian polar ice caps. That got me interested in it almost right away. But then at the moment that Peter Graves "wife", Andrea King, starts whining, I knew something funny was up- moments after her first outburst, this film immediately degrades into anti-communism baloney and malarkey, McCarthyism all wrapped up in stupid pseudoscientific dialogue, with semi inaccurate jargon thrown in designed to make people believe that what they were talking about was actual science, when in fact it was equivalent to what creationists try to cram down peoples throats these days. On a side note, I appreciated the idea of Creationism when Dr Walter Martin spearheaded the field, but without him, its proponents have removed every facet of real science from their "theories".
Apparently this film started off as some play, that might have gotten enough attention from a producer in Hollywood to turn it into a movie. Whoever decided to make this into a movie thought it might be a good vehicle to cram their fear propaganda down the throats of forward thinking people, the same kind of people who would go to science fiction movies who became progressive idealists and futurists like Gene Roddenberry, I imagine he rejected this film instantly, but that's exactly the target that this film was designed to put hooks into. Ironically, Peter Graves was clever enough to depict his irritation with this kind of thinking in a couple of scenes. I was born at the end of the red scare era, even after McCarthy was discredited and censured, there were still people who continued to believe the propaganda, years later. It was bad enough that I had to grow up with it. It's bad enough that this kind of thinking has magically reappeared and the word "commie" is being tossed around as an insult now to people of intelligence. This movie is a direct kick in the groin to anybody who loves science.
As a science-fiction film, I should have heard about this movie because I am a fan of all of the classics from the 50s there were some great films in the 50s, especially the day the earth stood still which is the polar opposite message of this film, and forbidden planet which is another film that gives us a message completely the opposite of this pile of crud.
As much as I love old movies like this, even some that have these kinds of negative messages, I just couldn't stomach the anti-intelligence, the stupidity of this film it. It was too much for me to take so I stopped watching about halfway through.
But that doesn't mean that this film is not important this film is actually something that we can look back upon to show the backward thinking of that era, this movie teaches us a lesson, don't use science to push backwards thinking agendas, use science for improvement.
Peter Graves character had that idea all along, but his wife was just too much to bear. We cannot be ruled by fear any longer.
Star Trek: Voyager: Warlord (1996)
Jennifers' best episode.
In this episode of the range of the actress is stretched to her utter limits.
It also changes the character irrecoverably.
The whole thing is kind of a shock, because we don't know what's really going on and then all of a sudden Kes starts doing some very uncharacteristic things.
She even takes Tuvoc's teachings and uses them against him. Nothing can be taken for granted in this episode, things that would have worked before, will not work now.
But the real battle is going on within Kes herself.
This episode also changes her relationship with Neelix for the remainder of the time the character appears in the show. She is now a mature woman, at three years old. And it's also possible that this encounter gives Kes access to some of that incredibly dark stuff from "Cold Fire", because after this point she really starts coming into her mental and telekinetic abilities.
But there is no other way to say this: Kes has been violated, there was a stronger word that I can use but I'm pretty sure that bean counters at IMDb rejected my original review because I used that word. it is the most appropriate word for what has happened to Kes. But she does not accept the role of "victim" willingly, and in the end she proves to be the one who is stronger.
I'm sure my previous review had all kinds of spoilers in it, I don't really want to do that this time. But I am pretty sure that there were a few insights in that old review that were pretty important, which is why I want to see it back, thank you. Nothing makes me angrier than when I come in here to look over an episode that I had previously reviewed, and my original review has magically disappeared without any notification.
Ronon Dex harpoons Aquaman
I've been a fan of Aquaman since the 60's, so I'll take my own counsel about this film over anyone who was not even born at the time I was originally reading Aquaman comics. If you never read these comics as a child? If you never collected them, if you never watched the Superman-Aquaman "Hour of Adventure" cartoon show from the late 60's every Saturday morning with your brother, then you ain't qualified to review it, really. If you have, if you have taken the time do you find reprints and trade paperbacks of the old stories, well then that's good. A person should try to be at least a little bit familiar with the character before watching this. And if you don't have the money to buy a bunch of used comic books, then there is Wikipedia and other online sources that are pretty good that can fill you in with the uniqueness of this character, because once you understand the character, you will see why I highly appreciate this film.
Even though I stopped actively collecting in the 70's, I still kept up with the history of the character. Aquaman was originally a Blonde haired Blue eyed Seawater Breathing, Seahorse Riding gent who could talk to fish and swim around in the deep but not much else. He was the King of Atlantis, and so his comic books always dealt with his administration of the underwater Kingdom while his adventures with the Justice League of America sometimes took him to other planets. He's saved Superman more than once, and at one time, he grew his hair out long and lost one of his hands, replacing it with a Hook. He became a much darker, more unkempt and disheveled figure, much like Frank Miller's "The Dark Knight" version of Batman, which in my opinion Ben Affleck was the greatest depiction of.
Aquaman, this Aquaman, is the undersea, super powered version of The Dark Knight. And Jason Momoa, who became famous playing Ronon Dex in Stargate Atlantis (another fable which included Atlantis), has been the first and best version of Aquaman. I don't think anyone can take it from here.
I really don't know the state of the DC Cinematic Universe at this time, Zack Snyder started it with his Man of Steel, which lead up to the creation of The Justice League, and it is sad, very sad, that this story is not continuing. Or is it? I think I see plans for Aquaman II and Justice League II. But other New films are planned which are basically reboots of what Zack Snyder created. I don't want that, I want to see a second Justice League movie which includes the characters as they are now.
Aquaman is one of the latest films to be told in the DCCU, and it caps off the tale with a threat that grows from the deep, Arthur Curry has a half-brother (Played by Patrick Wilson, Nite Owl from Watchmen, and I admit he is very handsome as an Atlantean) who wants to be crowned "Ocean Master" which will empower him to make war upon the surface. Arthur has to prevent this somehow, and his adventures take him to Atlantis, The Sahara, my Homeland Sicily, and finally The Marianas Trench/Challenger Deep - To meet a unique creature that has killed everyone who has ever come face to "face" with it. Can Arthur survive this?
Now, the one thing about this film is that there appears to be a huge knock down drag out fight every 5 minutes. But, they are well choreographed. I thought The Atlanteans had too many Gizmos. Those are my only complaints.
I thought it was cool that Nicole Kidman is his mom while Bobba Fett's Clone-Pop is his Dad. And his GF "Mera" (Amber Heard, hm, she was married to Capn Jack Sparrow?), so it's an all in the family affair.
Mainly I loved that a character that I loved as a child has finally been given their own film, and a guy I like played him. That's all anyone can ask.
Notice - Since this review is pretty much the same as the other review that somehow got posted before this one, I'm removing "spoilers", because I did not really put any spoilers in here. This was the update to that review and it just has a few new things in it.
The aliens with the coolest haircuts
End up being the worst bad guys.
Dr. Bashir and chief O'Brien are helping two races, the T'Lani and the Tellerun (probably named after somebody who worked on the cast of the crew of Star Trek- see my review of "the most toys -TNG", Kivas Fajo was named after Lolita Fatjo, who worked on the production of these Trek shows). That aside, these two alien races have great haircuts but they become, again in guardians of the galaxy terminology, real "A Holes".
One thing I notice with Star Trek, especially Next Generation/Deep Space 9/voyager/Enterprise, is that all of these aliens wear a kind of uniform, and that is precisely what is going on in this episode as well. The T'Lani and Kellerun have specific uniforms, don't any of these alien races have casual attire?
Even with the Maquis, they also have a kind of uniform, even though it is closer to what casual attire would look like in the 24th century, they still have a touch of a kind of uniform that, when you see somebody dressed like this, you immediately identify them as being a member of the Maquis.
The Cardassians, that's a different story, because everybody who is Cardassian in deep space nine is generally a member of their military or one of their covert operations like the obsidian order, so it is appropriate for every Cardassian to be shown wearing the uniform. But there are Cardassian individuals who appear on the show occasionally, who do wear unique casual clothing, like Mr. Garak, and a few other Cardassian individuals who are members of their government or old girlfriends of Quark. This is the only race that actually was shown to have individuals who wore casual attire rather than an entire species uniform. About it, when the changelings take human form, they choose to all look like Odo. But maybe that is for his comfort.
But the two races in this episode are easily identifiable not just by their unique haircuts but by their unique outfits as well.
Without giving away too much of what is happening in this episode, Dr. Bashir and Chief Brian are being pursued by these people for something that we really don't understand at this point. They had been helping them get rid of a dangerous biotech, but in the process chief O'Brien became infected.
So they are on the surface of a planet within some ruins from a war torn region, and O'Brien is getting worse by the minute.
Dr. Bashir has to use his rudimentary technological class from the Academy to try to rig a means of getting help, this was before we knew that he could have repaired the thing with hardly any effort, due to his genetic "improvements".
You have to watch these episodes in retrospect, in terms of what we know about the characters later in the series, this was something that had not been introduced and of course at the time Dr. Bashir was keeping his abilities secret from everybody, for good reason. And, it is just more fun to not think about it too much until this is revealed later in the series.
Keiko O'Brien, who knows her husband extremely well, notices something in a video transmission that eventually can be used to help save O'Brien and Bashir. But how well does she really know her husband? They have only been married really for about four years at this point, maybe three.
Has she made a mistake?
That's the actual name of this character, if anyone has read the excellent "Kingdom Come" graphic novel by Alex Ross, and many DC tiles going back to the late 30's. I'm not sure if this character predates Superman, but it is one of the first DC characters ever made.
This story here, an "Origin Story", is aimed at Kids, and Zack Levi does a great job of playing this person, who suddenly gets a Grown up Body and Magic Powers. Therefore, watching the first part of this film is equivalent to scraping fingernails on a blackboard. At first, Batson doesn't get it and he causes as many problems as he fixes. He has to learn a hard lesson, and after that is when this film picks up speed and quality. Of course, this origin story which was first told in the 1930's or maybe earlier, has been modernized to include Cell Phones and Youtube and Selfies.
In Kingdom Come, Superman is depicted as the Earth's Mightiest Immortal while Billy Batson is the Earth's Mightiest Mortal, they have a gargantuan Face-Off and Supie loses big time. But later, Batson proves his Humanity and becomes a true Hero. This is one aspect of the character that was missing from this film. In fact, the confrontation with Superman was a huge part of the events that take place in the Comics. There is one scene in this film that is appropriate and Homages this historic meeting, which depicts Shazam side by side with his immortal counterpart. Now, hold on, I may be talking about Wonder Woman! So just watch the film, to see who I am talking about.
Of course, Mark Strong has to play another version of Sinestro only not as cool. Strong plays the boy "Sivana" rejected by Shazam, cos he was greedy. When such kids grow up, they become what would be labeled "A-Holes" in Guardians of the Galaxy terminology. Rule number one: When visiting a powerful wizard who tells you not to listen to any Daemons, you really should do it.
For Shazam, Batson was not really a better choice, Shazam had been testing children for years and never found a champion. So Shazam, the Wizard Shazam, has to take a chance that Batson is that guy.
We have to remember, it's "The Power of Shazam" - Which was the name of the old Serials from the 40's, "Shazam" was not the name of the character that Batson will eventually become, it is always the name of the Wizard whose powers Billy uses. In the old DC comic books, he was called "Captain Marvel"- Not to be confused with Miss Marvel or any other Marvel Comics "Captain Marvel".
There were parts of this film that were outrageously bad, but the parts that were good far outweigh that- and makes the film worth sticking with.
When Strong's "Sivana" in Child Form visits the Wizard "Shazam" (Djimon Hounsou -Ironically Sivana's father was played by John Glover, who played the devil in the show "Brimstone" some time ago), we see 6 empty thrones in the Wizard's "Lair". Keep those in the back of your mind, "File for Future reference", any good movie never wastes 6 good empty thrones. That's all you will get out of me.
Both Sivana and Batson get their childhood wishes, it's what each of them do with that heart's desire that's important. Some people should never gain any kind of power at all, look at our present Federal Administration. The difference between Sivana and Batson, was that Batson really was not looking for what he was handed. Rather, Batson was looking for something else, something that has haunted and eluded him since he was a small child. It was the reason he moves from one set of Foster parents to the next. In this film, he hits the jackpot, but he doesn't realize this right away, it takes a little bit of bruised buttocks syndrome for him to start getting it.
But once he gets tapped by "Shazam", he's got to figure it out quick, and his only "Superhero for Dummies" Tutorial is his friend and roommate Freddy. Which wasn't really the best source of information. Between the two of them, they muck it up fairly well.
I would have preferred a darker story and darker character overall for "Captain Marvel"/"The Power of Shazam", but this is what we got.
Someone whined about the special effects, well, it was WETA, so you may as well complain about Man of Steel, Batman V Superman, Justice League, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman, as well as most of the Marvel CU films, I guess the version of Shazam they watched was the workprint that they got from a torrent site. Hint: Go see it in a Theatre, or wait until it comes out on Blu ray!
Menace from Outer Space (1956)
Captain Proton to The Rescue!
In Star Trek Voyager (1995) starting in Season 5 they introduced a new Monochromatic Character: Captain Proton!
Always fighting Chaotica, With his trusty Sidekicks, Cap Proton always saved the day!
The Producers of Trek outdid themselves, by Homaging Serials like this "Movie" which was actually several independent episodes strung together.
The First thing you see in this story is a Young Blonde woman with a Mascot Kid in tow, driving one of the Coolest Cars I've ever seen.
They meet up with a Professor at an observatory, to watch a suspicious missile land just several feet away from the Observatory.
So then it's Rocky to the Rescue, with a trip to an unknown moon of Jupiter to find an unknown menace.
What I loved about this one, is that they do not show a V-2 rocket launching, they actually created special effects of rockets launching and landing with were done well for the day, even showing how Gravity comes into play for an astronaut in the pilot's seat.
There are several bad guys that have to be defeated, which Rocky does in short order. Even the Child Mascot takes part in taking the bad guys down.
The sets and costumes are clever, and the story is actually entertaining.
But the thing I loved most about this, was Rocky's haircut.
A sad eternal triangle
Despite changing the setting from the Arctic to Egypt, this version of the H Rider Haggard story appears to definitely have taken a lot of inspiration from the 1935 version with Randolph Scott, Helen Gahagan and Helen Mack.
Although Ursula Andress probably generated a lot of interest in this version, the big stand out is John Richardson.
Rosenda Monteros from "The Magnificent Seven" takes the place of Helen Mack as the less-exotic "other girl" of the triangle. It was probably an ethnic miscast (along with Christopher Lee playing an Egyptian priest) but she did well.
The difference between this version and the 1935 version was that Helen Gahagan depicted a much colder and much less desirable "she who must be obeyed", it wasn't that I didn't like Helen Gahagan's version of this woman, she actually pulled it off fairly well. But Ursula Andress was born to play this role, reflecting a stark contrast between her external beauty and her internal ugliness.
Between the two films the philosophy of "she" is identical: to rule by fear and terror.
And while the 1935 version shows some of this evil, being a Merian C Cooper production it reflected a lot of similarities to King Kong in actuality, but that film doesn't reflect the very dark streak that runs through the city ruled by this woman.
This 1965 hammer films version does great homage to the 1935 version, including some incredible and very large sets, not as large as the sets they built for the 1935 version, but still fairly large.
The ending of this version is a lot darker but it is not disappointing, except for the feet of one of the characters that you start becoming attached to. A lot of the dialogue toward the end of the film appears to have been lifted directly from the 1935 version.
But the thing that draws you into this version of the film is the incredible music written by James Bernard, which includes strains that are very reminiscent of the 1935 version.
Overall this is one of the very best hammer films I have ever seen, and this film was of course intended to be shown in cinemascope, I would love to be able to see it on a curved screen, there are some panoramic shots that reveal Cinemascopic photography.
Star Trek: Voyager: Night (1998)
Should have spanned a few episodes
I loved the debut of Captain Proton! Thankfully we got a whole episode of Captain Proton later this season.
I thought that the resolution of the relevant conundrum came about too easily. The Malon antagonist, and we have heard the term "garbage scow" used in Trek frequently- we finally get to see a garbage scow. This antagonist was a little too easy to defeat.
It would have been interesting to get further into this zone of night, I suppose this was one of the areas in between the galactic arms of our galaxy where there are few Stars. There may have been other things interesting in this area, but we only got to see what we get to see in this episode.
Nevertheless this was a strong introduction into season 5, an important episode. it was interesting to see with the impending two-year span of boredom that they were facing, how each character had ways to cope with it, Tom Paris in the Holodeck, Harry Kim engrossed in his music, and Captain Janeway, at a dangerous low point. Thankfully they did not have to spend that entire time in this area, and neither did we.
This was an episode that I totally missed when I originally watched Voyager on UPN 13 during the 90s. There were only a few of these. It was probably preempted due to those lame "Syndex" laws from the 90s, which prohibited local Cable providers from showing syndicated shows on two different stations at the same time. This was very stupid, thank you, as I was not able to view almost all of season four of Babylon 5 because of these dumb laws. And sometimes, although Voyager was officially a network show, it would occasionally succumb to the same stupidity.
When this starts out, it appears to be a regular Voyager episode except that there are a few things different, that we don't notice right away. For one thing Lieutenant Torres only has one PIP making her an Ensign. And then when a call from engineering comes in, "Its Jonas", and we know he has been dead for a while. So, WT_?. They never show him, but this was actually the actor who played Jonas' real voice. Too bad they didn't have more of him in this episode.
Of course Seska also appears and at this time she is still pretending to be a Bajoran member of the Maquis.
The reason for the appearance of these characters becomes apparent, as the narrative is interrupted by a bumbling Tom Paris, who stumbles in at a most in opportune time.
This is not actually a holodeck episode, this is a horror episode. It could have been much worse, it should have been much worse. It was plenty disturbing as it was. Of course when we think that it is actually a holo episode, there is that usual voyager humor in the character interactions arguing about who is going to finish this HoloNovel.
It comes down to Tom Paris and Tuvoc, but they go from content creators to victims in one fell swoop. And the way that it was done knocked me out of my La-Z-Boy.
Star Trek: Voyager: Future's End (1996)
"From A to B to C"
This is another episode that I had reviewed previously, and the review has magically disappeared. Can you please restore my original review. Thank you.
Shortly after this episode aired, "First Contact" was shown in the theaters. The title of this pair of episodes becomes an important line, said by the Borg Queen. "Watch your futures end"
I thought that was nice how they took the name of this episode and put it into a feature film. In fact, the name of this episode appears in other places as well, it's a pivotal episode not just for voyager, but for Star Trek in general.
So... Voyager goes back to a contemporary point in time, in this case 1996. Well, I don't care whether or not "Star Trek 4 the voyage home" did the same thing or that they even did something similar to this in deep space nine. Or that Star Trek discovery has a magic red angel suit that can bring them to any point in time, so what? This episode of Voyager is not any of those, and was not made like any of those, it's its own dog. And as such, it has a lot of very unique things in it. So stick a sock in your mouth whoever is saying "this has already been done", your negative review has already been done, and I'm pretty tired of reading it especially as it appears as if it was written by several different reviewers but in fact it was written by only one guy.
I liked the original actor that played Captain Braxton, later, he is replaced by that guy who used to fly MacGyver around all the time, and he was good too (he was also in the movie Timecop as well), but I wish he would've done Captain Braxton originally. We get used to seeing an actor creating a character, and then later having to replace that actor with somebody new. It was even done in Game of Thrones, at least four times that I can remember. But I liked the guy who originally played Braxton, and I wish they would have used him when the character appeared later in the series.
Voyager is attacked by a timecop from the 29th century (Braxton), who doesn't really want to give Janeway too many details about why he has to do such a thing. Other than "Voyager was there". Janeway is not going to allow her ship to be destroyed on the basis of a 10 second conversation, The resulting confrontation begins this conundrum.
After that point, we get to see why that A to B to C thing comes into play- Braxton explains the thing beautifully in his new role as Bum. Wait, how did he get from Timecop, to Bum? I don't know, watch the episode.
This episode has some very funny character actors and some very funny things in it including Sarah Silverman, very young, and she bounces off of Tom Paris beautifully. She's almost as whack as he is, so it's a match made in, wherever.
This episode even has Alex Jones style conspiracy theorists getting their asses whomped, which is a beautiful thing to behold.
And then it also has the guy from Saint elsewhere, Ed Begley Junior, in fact he's got the first line in this episode, and it's great.
Another episode that I originally saw when it was first broadcast. One other very important thing occurs in this pair of episodes, as they say in Starship Troopers, "do you want to know more?"
Star Trek: Voyager: Macrocosm (1996)
Wildfire on Voyager
I remember watching this episode when it first ran on UPN 13.
This is the very first episode where I realized that Captain Janeway, crawling through sweaty ducts and Jeffries tubes being chased by... things, was a rather attractive woman.
The mere thought of crawling through cramped, hot Jeffries tubes like Janeway was doing makes me sweat just watching it.
This is an episode where they really make you feel what Janeway is going through, you can feel the heat, you have to wipe the sweat off of your forehead, for some reason this episode affected me physically.
Additionally, this is one of those episodes that backs up halfway through, and with the Doctors narration, explains how things came to happen. The other episode that is kind of like this is "The Fight", which starts at the end, then backs up and then tells the whole story piecemeal.
This episode has an interesting premise, where the microscopic jumps into the macroscopic. Things that are small should never be made larger, either accidentally or intentionally.
It also serves as a kind of warning against something like that happening in the real world, if something like this were to happen here somehow, our ecosystem would be taken over and destroyed by such an event. Fortunately, I can't think of any instance that would cause events similar to what are depicted here to happen in real life. Even if it did, I don't think any life form that "jumped quantums" like that would be able to survive in the new environment. However, as they say in Jurassic Park, "life will find a way"- so the best thing is to never let it happen in the first place.
And in fact it only happens here due to a fluke.
In regard to the title of my review, refer to the Game of Thrones episode called "Blackwater", and then look for something similar in this episode of Voyager.
Star Trek: Voyager: Threshold (1996)
Tom's bout with the Measels
Brannon Braga always says "what was I thinking" when he discusses this episode. No way! In fact I liked it, quite a bit. But not for the reasons you are thinking.
Tom is a pilot first and foremost, on top of being a jerk most of the time. In this episode, it appears that he is spearheading a team that has been planning hard designing a shuttle that can do something extraordinary, and he is the man that will pilot this. This is the flight that will give him something that he has wanted since he was a child, a feeling of accomplishment by doing something nobody else has. He is very sincere in all of his efforts and his arguments with Captain Janeway award him the chance to do this thing. But he is almost prevented from doing it because The Doctor thinks he has developed some form of brain-measles. Fortunately, and because we know Tom Paris' character well by this point, he is able to talk himself back into the pilot's seat.
However, what begins as a quest to break an ultimate speed barrier, takes a sharp twist and "devolves" into insanityland.
And I have never laughed so hard for a Star Trek episode, ever!
People simply don't appreciate the humor of this episode, especially the non-standard and possibly unintentional (but probably, actually intentional) comic acting by Robert Duncan McNeil. He nails this, if he had not pulled out all of the stops, the episode would have been perceived worse than it has been. But I never have thought of this episode as bad, only as drastically insane. Which was something that we needed at the time due to the serious turns in Trek during this period, with the Dominion and the Founders and Maquis and other threats in Deep Space Nine, to the destruction of the Enterprise D and the Borg Attack in the Next Generation movies of the period. With all of the seriousness of the state of the Federation on the Alpha quadrant side, we really needed something totally crazy to happen in the Delta quadrant side. And this was simply the first time they did it in Voyager, they had some other totally whack episodes after this, but nothing as crazy as this episode. It set a new standard for insanity. Which is why I personally love it.
And the ending is just way beyond the pale, when you think it can't get any crazier, it does, and then it even gets more absurd and insane after that, up until the very last scene which is the most incredibly crazy thing that we've ever seen any Star Trek, ever.
Y'all simply don't have a sense of humor, enjoy this for what it is, high comedy and absurdity, Star Trek style. Get out the popcorn when this episode plays, pretend like you are watching mst 3000, and enjoy it. I always make a point to watch this at least once every six months, it really lifts me up when I am in the dumps. Whaddya think this is? The last episode of Game of Thrones or something? (Which I also liked).
Stargate Origins: Catherine (2018)
It was a web series
And although I wish the quality would have been a little bit better, that's what this was. It simply wasn't supposed to be any big production. It was meant to be watched on laptops and tablets, and on those platforms, it was probably adequate.
Conor Trinneer does a great job here as professor Langton, the other actors I was not familiar with, the guy playing Brucke (Aylam Orian) was a villain with relish. Even the Goa'uld had enough of him.
People forget that they dropped Catherine's exotic accent that she had in the film for her appearances in Stargate SG-1, except for the episode "1969", when Daniel Jackson has a tete-a-tete with the middle-aged version of the character.
Due to the appearance of a young Kusuf, I have to assume that this planet is Abydos. The Gou'ald, Aset, has never been heard of. And we hear the word "harsesis", we all know what that means.
This production is more like a stage play than it is an episode of the original franchises, viewed as such I can ignore the poor production and focus on the story. I didn't see anything radically changed from the canon of the franchise, and just because we never heard about something, it doesn't mean that it never happened. We assume that in the series, Catherine never made it through the Stargate, only her boyfriend Ernest Littlefield, that we met during "the torment of Tantalus", played by Paul McGillion. He is not here, but apparently the earth side of this story takes place in Egypt rather than in a secret lab In the United States- so we wouldn't expect to see him until later in the Stargate Origins series, if they get that far. I haven't watched any of that yet, this popped up on my Amazon prime and I became interested in it.
And as I am being entertained by this, despite the lack of production, I will have to say it is not as poor as what people are saying. I am just giving it a higher rating for balance sake. Because this was not a television show or a movie, and was not supposed to be. It was what it was, because people wanted to hear more stories in the Stargate universe, which this is.
Game of Thrones (2011)
One small part of a larger story
Someone said, "This series is not Lord of the Rings!" - But they are wrong.
This whole series is just a tiny fragment of the history of a world that contains Westeros, Essos, Braavos, Sothoryos, and Ulthos. Just like Lord of the Rings, which tells a very small piece of a story that goes all the way back to The Silmarillion and well beyond Lord of the Rings and takes place across many different lands and in many languages, so too Game of Thrones.
And that is why this show is exactly Lord of the Rings, not just because we are being told a tiny fragment of a much larger story and a much larger history. Which is every bit as huge and complex as LOTR, but because of the immensity and complexity of the world George RR Martin created, which in some cases dwarfs Lord of The Rings.
That is where the similarity ends. Of course this is not Middle Earth or any "Earth" whatsoever. The planet where Westeros resides may as well be in The Beta Quadrant, and the USS Discovery will visit it using their Magic Red Angel Time Machine/Spore Drive in the next season of Discovery. Westeros resides in a world that appears to be inside-out, almost like a Dyson Sphere. We are shown this at the beginning of each episode with the unusual map that we see each time we enter this world. This world is unlike any other world we've seen in other Ur-Fantasy tales, it may as well be an Alien Planet.
This is a meager part of a much longer and complex story.
I say "meager", but when I first started watching this, and saw the scale of the locales and the believability and the truth of every location, I realized the scope of it all. Even in LOTR, you know that they are filming on Earth. In this show, even the forests are unlike anything we've seen. There is no 800-foot wall of ice and magic on our Earth. We can't even say "Hell" because the concept of Hell is not relatable to this world. This world has its own gods, and we must needs become familiar with them as the story goes on, before we can even use an expletive (other than Sandor Clegane's favourite Word).
And with Lord of the Rings, A Song of Ice and Fire also has several languages that have been created from the ground up. In a unique move, whole blocks of dialogue were spoken in Dothraki and High and Low Valyrian, causing us to enable Subtitles for the first time ever just so we can understand what is being said. Which I suppose is where the similarity to LOTR finally and irrevocably ends, as they burned the subtitles into the scenes in that series of films.
The final similarity to Lord of the Rings was in the narrative style, which has a complicated beginning and middle, but picks up speed for the last act, so that events are compressed into a few chapters. Not being familiar with the book version of this show, I don't know how GRRM will end it, but it is easier to elongate an ending on paper than it is to do so on Film with a Television Budget.
But even during the beginnings of this tale, which has satisfactory complexities, we realize the vastness of scope, even as we see The Wall for the first time. Or The Vale of House Arryn, later, we see the Isle of Pike and Balon Greyjoy's huge castle of 3 interlocking towers. Also, many castles, bridges, cities, towers, and landmarks. Old Town and its Citadel, which is as immense inside as it is outside. King's Landing, and the Sept of Baelor. In the South as Daenerys Targaryen makes her way from East to West across Essos, we see several walled cities like Qarth, Yunkai, Astapor and Meereen, each with a Giant Harpy on top of the largest pyramids. The House of The Undying. And that's just Essos, there are other continents on this world. And then see the full glory of Dragonstone... Oh, we got to see a few of its many rooms, its dungeon, and its night sky shape when it was occupied by Stannis Baratheon, but we really don't get to see it at all until Season 7, in all of its uncanny majesty.
And this is not even covering any of that story I was talking about. It begins thousands of Years ago, when the Children of the Forest were fighting "The First Men", and later there were other invasions, and eventually the Doom of Valyria, which brings us into the era where this part of the story begins.
When HBO graciously offered me a month to catch up with this show, I did not hesitate. It didn't take long to get me hooked and I watched seasons 7 and 8 the same way everyone else did.
But I am talking mostly about the landscape of Westeros and the world it sits in, there is also the array of royal houses, each with their histories and conflicts and banners, much of this tale depends on histories that we only hear portions of in the show, mostly in passing conversations between the many characters. And if we did not pay attention, we missed it when it became relevant later.
The Characters are as complex as the landscape, and if we don't understand the History of Westeros, we miss the total point of the conflicts between the various houses. And even those conflicts are inflated in scale beyond what we've ever seen before. We have invested so much time becoming involved with following those conflicts, the most important conflict is the one that is in the very first scene in the show that involves the three Night's Watch Rangers. We see something odd happen there, we don't really fully understand it until much later in the show, and the scale of that conflict makes the struggle for whoever is going to sit on The Iron Throne, trivial at best. This was shy I was shocked by the events of Season 7. As I went back and revisited the seasons before that, there were hints about what was to come peppered throughout episodes all the way back to Season 1. They are hidden within what we would dismiss as filler conversation between characters, and if we were lucky, we'd remember a vision that someone saw or a passing comment about things that were stored underneath Kings Landing.
I don't really have any complaints about the way these events were played out, I have a lot of respect for the detail; things that I thought were CGI ended up not being CGI at all, but clever compositing of real elements. And when your base of Characters shrinks from almost 100 down to about 20 or so, you can't really continue a narrative style that involved those 100 characters.
Not having read the books, I was glad to have an element of surprise. Every season handed me something that never failed to knock me off my couch, and provided a visual and auditory smorgasbord at the same time.
I am really going to miss that.
Beginning, Middle, End
This episode represents the exact center of A Song of Ice and Fire. Several important arcs converge here, one horrible event occurs, and portions of the Starck family almost also converge. Arya is beginning her long trek with Sandor Clegane, maybe even realizing that he is not really her enemy.
Two Weddings are occurring almost at once, Sansa and Tyrion, Edmure Tully and Roslin Frey. Edmure isn't even sure which Frey daughter he will wed, they keep it secret until the last minute. In King's landing, Cersei's detestation of Margery becomes blatant. But the events at Frey's Castle all appear friendly and on the Up and Up. Until we remember Jamie's last words to Roose Bolton, about giving his "regards for Edmure's Wedding"
Jon is pressed to the limit of what he can endure with Tormund and Ygritte, and we have two people in this episode who can "Warg" - Orell (Mackenzie Crook) and Brann. But this is the first time it is revealed that Bran can do much more than the average Warg can do- He can enter into a Human Being. And Brann's arc almost intersects with Jon's - As does Arya's and Robb's and Catelyn's - And Arya doesn't realize exactly how lucky she was to be with The Hound.
Daenerys already has two full armies: Her loyal Dothraki (what few are left at this point) and the Unsullied. But this episode marks where she picks up the full support of The Second Sons.
Meanwhile, on Dragonstone, we start seeing more details of that structure, especially the Dungeon where Stannis is keeping Lord Davos. But Stannis had once again used Dark Magic to call forth the deaths of specific people. And we know that when Melisandre uses blood in her spells, the heinous things she calls forth always happen to the last detail. But due to Davos' counsel, The Red Woman only uses a small portion of Gendry's blood, sapped by Leeches, rather than all of his blood.
But the most important arc is the Samwell/Gilly arc - We know that White Walkers were taking Craster's male babies in an agreement to leave him alone so that they can turn said babies into new White Walkers- We saw The Night King doing just this when we met him- But Sam had also picked up the Dragonglass, not knowing it's special significance.
And he was fortunate that he had it on him when the White Walker came. This White Walker was different: He was accompanied by a flock of Ravens. We have seen this White Walker before, this is "No Shirt", who Sam encountered before. We finally get to see why that Cache of Junk left by the First Men that Sam found was very important.
Everything changes from this moment on - And Robb's fate is tied in with Joffrey and Bailon Greyjoy, three people who were marked by The Red Woman using Gendry Baratheon's blood. We didn't know at the time why Stannis chose those three particular people, it soon becomes clear.
This episode marks a drastic change in the style of the writing, as all of the elements of the end of the story are now all in place. After this, Bran's abilities are used to exposit very important details about past/present and future. We will start seeing this in "The Lion and The Rose"
Game of Thrones: The Iron Throne (2019)
The End of a tale is always thinner than the beginning
Or, "Many partings"
Look at Lord of the Rings: The beginnings of that story are as complex as this, but the end of that tale is very much like the end of this version of "A Song of Ice and Fire".
And one thing about that ending frightened some people, and that is the concept of "Democracy". Daenerys did not like that word, but Jon did. In fact the word did not have very much use in this tale, until this episode. The former Lords of the Seven Kingdoms did not have much use for it either. But of all of the complaints about this ending, that is probably the most prominent. Oh, the word was never used in this series at all. But the underlying concept was part of this episode. And that concept was, "Which contender for King would have listened to his constituents?" And the answer to that question is here.
I watched part of the very first episode of this series on the night it was first broadcast. I thought, "Neat, but who needs another show about stuff that happened during the Dark Ages?" - I did not realize at the time that this was an Alternate Reality, a different world even, where winter does not come every year but at intervals that can't be predicted. I was not interested in this at all, until I was given a free month of HBO one summer, and with nothing else to do, I watched the whole thing.
Of course it did not take long for me to get sucked in to Westeros, and like everyone else, I became invested in the story being told, or rather, the many stories about the many people, places, gods, and Priestesses, some that gained power by burning people at the stake or sucking their blood out with leeches. Soon I realized that there was as rich of an alternate history as there is in ay Ur-Fantasy Novels, with the added benefit that George R R Martin is still writing this tale and produced part of this version of it.
In the course of this show, a variegated assortment of characters and families had been paraded in front of us - Some of them removed from the story in the first season, others hung in there for a lot longer. But as I watched the last season of the show and then went back and watched key episodes and seasons, I realized that there was a pattern: this show was very populated at the start and there was a lot of dialogue because there were a lot of people having discussions. But each season of the show had less and less of these people talking, many of the main characters were killed off including whole families.
We were introduced to two families at the start: The Starks and the Lannisters. There was a 3rd family, the Baratheons, which had a relationship to both Stark and Lannister due to friendship and marriage. But we learned right away of improprieties within the King's own family. As viewers we knew it, the other characters in the show were mostly oblivious to it.
We know now that the whole conflict between Stark and Lannister was the result of manipulations by "Lord Littlefinger Baelish" - And the tale of his treachery spans 7 seasons. Treachery which spread across all of Westeros, affecting the remaining Baratheon family, the Starks and Lannisters, the Boltons, the Targaryen's, The Freys, even the Ironborn Greyjoys- Every one of them affected by Baelish' original act of Treason and Heinous Murder.
We were introduced to other cities, continents and cultures, particularly the Dothraki, led by Khal Drogo, and this was where we got our first glimpse of the disrobed figure of Daenerys Targaryen, sister of Viserys, and we start hearing a lot of talk about Dragons- Until we got 3 of them.
MEANWHILE, up at "THE WALL", a vast construct of Ice and Magic, we get our first encounter with a "White Walker", as we see a whole village of "Wildings" slaughtered and then rise from the dead with Blue Eyes. This is our introduction to the Watchers on The Wall, an elite group of men, usually former prisoners, who guard the Realms of Men. Against what?
For seven years, we watched the ranks of Westeros thin out. The Baratheons, dead. The Boltons - dead. The Freys, dead. Whole houses, wiped out, either by treachery or by trickery, or by the machinations of Cersei Lannister.
It was not extraordinary that at the start, we had complex dialogue, sometimes verbatim to the books this tale is based upon. But what happens, if the writer of the books, has not written any since 2011, and the show still has to move forward?
With the significant amount of major characters killed off season by season, and not replaced with new, of course the level of Dialogue was reduced somewhat, which is what happens when you have roughly less than a third of the characters you started off with. And then we had significant story and character development, unlikely relationships between unlikely characters: As we entered into the 8th season, the ranks had decisively been thinned out. So all we really have left is Tyrion with his wisecracks, The Hound and Arya fellowshipping on the taste shared revenge but also mutual respect, and the huge reveal as to the identity of one of the most major characters.
And let us not get started in the unfortunate events that brought the Night King his very own pet Ghoul-Dragon.
As I view these episodes again and again, I saw the mistakes that were made. Tyrion, smart as he is forgot the very nature of his own sister. And Daenerys had been victorious with every campaign and erringly thought she was invincible with three whole dragons, forgetting twice that Dragons are susceptible to flying projectiles.
So my take on this final episode, and this final season has to be this: Even the best stories have an ending, and a denouement. Seven seasons of one of the finest stories ever televised had to come to an end. Was I happy with all of the decisions? No, but I was happy that most of the main plot elements had been solidly wrapped up. From the first to the last, Game of Thrones has delivered one whopping kick in the buttocks after another. I think the level of hurt rump for this season is due to the creators providing plot twists and reversals that did not involve their favourite characters, and I am guilty of that as well. "The season was sparse, the episodes less complex, the dialogue more simple?" Naturally, because this is what happens when you start off with 100 characters and end with maybe 20. So no complaints, I got the see most of the show in one sitting, so I'm certainly not going to complain about it.
I will admit that as I watched the series, I became invested in it, and of course I wanted to see certain things. That I did not get to see those things? I'm not going to pan the whole season and the showrunners because of it. Because look at what I did see:
1-Three Dragons destroying a fleet of Slaver Ships.
2-The Watchers on the Wall using a huge scythe on a chain to repel thousands of Wilding Attackers.
3-The same Wildings besieged by an Army of The Dead at a port far beyond the Wall.
4-Cersei using secreted explosives to destroy the Sept of the Seven and all of the little Sparrows.
And the most incredible: Arya becoming one of The Faceless Ones.
Not to mention the sheer vastness of the imagery I was exposed to, and to this date I can't tell what was real and what was not. But it was all real I suppose, in some ways.
This was indeed, "Many Partings"- All stories come to an end sooner or later. But this ending was more hopeful than I expected. An Unexpected King, the coolest people on the Small Council, Samwell Tarly given position as a Maester above all of the maesters that dismissed him, and Jamie Lannister's story finally written in the Book of Knights by the very woman that he Knighted.
I'm really going to miss these people.