Guillermo Del Toro’s critically acclaimed The Shape of Water is a throwback in more ways than one and yet a touchstone perhaps of things to come.
2017 was a very eventful year for geek movies in general. Geek franchises like the MCU and Star Wars demonstrated their wide-ranging popularity with the masses whilst (sometimes) dumbing down story content in the process.
Mortal Engines is a movie adaptation of the novel of the same name (by Philip Reeve), which focuses on a futuristic, steampunk version of London, now a giant machine striving to survive on a world running out of resources.
The final trailer for Star Wars Episode VIII : The Last Jedi has dropped. And it cleverly suggests certain key plot points that may or may not happen.
What else can one say about Game of Thrones?
The medieval fantasy series has captured global imagination to become one of the biggest TV series ever. It has actually surpassed the Lord of the Rings movie adaptations in reach and influence over the last seven years of its run. It has made stars out of previously unknown actors and has made HBO millions. A cultural phenomenon.
Winter is finally here and so is Game of Thrones!
Neil Gaiman is a critically acclaimed award-winning writer who started his career with comic books – notably on the fan favourite Sandman – and novels (viz. American Gods, Coraline, Stardust and The Graveyard Book).
Not quite sure what to make of this. Basically with Norse Mythology, Neil Gaiman “reaches back through time to the original source stories in a thrilling and vivid rendition of the great Norse tales” – as the press release informs us. So is it something like an album of covers? And why is it so short (304 pages)?
Based on the Warcraft video game series and novels set in the world of Azeroth, The film portrays the initial encounters between the humans and the orcs and takes place in a variety of locations established in the video game series. The film is co-written and directed by Duncan Jones and stars Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Ben Foster, Dominic Cooper, Toby Kebbell, Ben Schnetzer, Robert Kazinsky and Daniel Wu.
It is what it is.
Just wanted to make a couple of observations about where the geek movie industry appears to be headed as we drive on towards 2020.
Fans and critics have been sharply divided in their opinion over Star Wars: The Force Awakens. For the detractors, the launch of the new trilogy is a simple re-hashing of plot elements from the original trilogy whilst the supporters feel that the movie has injected a freshness into the franchise after the disappointment of the prequel trilogy.
More avant-garde/speculative fiction/fantasy than outright scifi, Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Lobster is a triumph of imaginative allegory. There is a strong message running through the narrative that somewhat loses steam in the third act. The set-up though is well conceptualised.
Now that Star Wars: The Force Awakens is history, let’s look ahead to the scifi, superhero & fantasy flicks that await us geeks in the coming new year!
The new TV season is upon us geeks – even as Fear The Walking Dead and The Strain end their respective storylines for the time being (both will definitely be back), The Leftovers returns.
Considering how popular The Walking Dead is, it’s no surprise that this spin-off did well in terms of viewership. Fear the Walking Dead was a disappointment though and never got near to the intensity, drama and characterisation that its parent series managed in its powerful debut season (which was also only six episodes).
The Strain‘s second season was rather mixed. Plotlines were left dangling, women characters were killed off & still we are nowhere closer to resolving key issues.
Now, I enjoyed the polarising quasi-religious HBO series The Leftovers and am glad to report that Season 2 is off to a great start by introducing a new town and a new family into the storyline before more familiar faces turn up. As usual, all the weird elements remain intact – goat sacrifice in a diner, anyone? – with ominous undertones bubbling under the surface wonderfully.
By now, it becomes abundantly clear that George RR Martin and the writers of Game of Thrones have no clue what to do. Instead of intriguing plot lines and character development, the TV series is a sequence of scenes with maximum shock value to incite internet buzz and cultivate some kind of false belief that Game of Thrones is one of the best TV shows ever.
Remember LOST? A series that began almost perfectly before getting entangled by too many convoluted plot lines that were thrown up just to keep interest at fever pitch but without any intention of resolving anything? Well, that’s happening with Game of Thrones. Too many plot lines going nowhere. Instead of character development, shock deaths, loss of limbs, blindness, rape etc are dumped on characters to generate sympathy and create the illusion of edginess.
Season 5 proves quite conclusively that the TV series is as clueless as the books in trying to tell a coherent story. The abuse of Sansa Stark, the immolation of Princess Shireen, the public shaming of Queen Cersei, the blinding of Arya Stark, the overthrow of Queen Daenerys Targaryen, the deaths of Mance Rayder, Stannis Baratheon and even Jon Snow (above) is simply shock overdrive in order to mask a lack of narrative ideas.
Remember the finale of Season 1? Daenerys turned the tragic death of Khal Drogo into an epiphany with the birth of her three dragons but even that promise proved hollow. Every subsequent season has delivered disappointment after disappointment as one by one, main protagonists are killed off until there’s hardly anyone left to root for in this abysmally, depressing story called Game of Thrones.
Now, when is Season Six?
With Game of Thrones well into its fifth season, the popular HBO television show is going strong and holding its audience captive every week with its unpredictable story and multi-layered characters. Considering the intricate twists and turns it takes, it is no surprise that fans have formed various theories about their favorite characters—no matter how absurd they may seem! Here are just a couple of those theories:
The Identity of Jon Snow’s Parents (The R + L = J Theory)
“R + L = J” literally translates to “Rhaegar + Lyanna = Jon,” meaning that Jon Snow isn’t Ned’s son, but the product of an affair between Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. This theory gained steam during this season’s episode “Sons of the Harpy,” when Stannis commented that it was out of Ned’s character to defy his wife Catelyn. If this birth equation is true, it means Jon is the true heir to the Iron Throne.
Tyrion Lannister is Really a Targaryen
Another heated debate in the Game of Thrones realm is who the real father of Tyrion Lannister is. Some fans believe it to be King Aerys Targaryen after he forced himself on Tyrion’s mother, thus making Tyrion Lannister a Targaryen. The theory continues that Tywin, being enraged at the situation, used a drug on Joanna Lannister to abort the baby. While this attempt failed, it can explain the dwarfism in Tyrion.
Dragonglass is Actually Dragon Poop
This one reads more like a biology lesson than a fan theory, but it is still interesting to consider nonetheless. A Reddit user hypothesized that dragonglass is nothing more than dragon waste. The theory goes that dragons tunnel through the ground and eat sand. This sand then enters the dragon’s fiery stomach and heats up and forms glass. Once this molten glass exits the dragon’s body, it cools and the people forge great weapons out of it.
Jon Snow is Azor Ahai
“The Prince That Was Promised” has long been a mystery to Game of Thrones fans but some feel they know the true identity of the great Azor Ahai. Melisandre’s theory is that it is Stannis Baratheon who is the true Azor Ahai but readers have noticed that her visions of Azor Ahai are not a clear cut as she thinks. A growing faction of fans are speculating that it is actually Jon Snow who matches the red priestess’ visions. Though it is also possible that Azor Ahai is three people after Daenerys’ vision where Rhaegar claims that “the dragon shall have three heads.”
Syrio and Jaqen H’ghar Are the Same Person
Is Syrio dead? That seems to be the heart of this fan theory. When Syrio was last seen by fans, he was about to face off against Meryn. In the end, it is Meryn that walks out alone and we assume he is victorious. However, no one actually sees Syrio die, which is the fuel that perpetuates this theory. The connections between Syrio and Jaqen H’ghar may not be the end-all to the argument but take a couple factors into account: the similar phrasing when they speak, the special attention paid to Arya, and even the ease in which Jaqen figured out Arry was actually Arya Stark. It makes you think!
Game of Thrones is full of surprises, and there is no sign that it will stop anytime soon. Some of these theories may seem a little ridiculous but given the plot twists and shock factors of the past seasons, nothing seems impossible. Make sure you keep up with the show on HBO Go or DTV up until the season finale later this month for more of this excitement!
Written and directed by Lana and Andy Wachowskis.
Starring Channing Tatum, Mila Kunis, Sean Bean & Eddie Redmayne.
Where do I begin? The fact that Jupiter Ascending had two previous release dates in 2014 before settling on February 2015 was already cause of concern. Add to that the dodgy trailer hinted of a ridiculously fantastical plot, lame dialogue and over the top epic sequences did not help comfort the unease.
Written by Julien Blondel.
Art & Colors by Didier Poli, Robin Recht & Jean Bastide.
“… the story you begin reading here is the saga of the Albino I would have written myself if I had thought of it first.”
In his introduction to this latest graphic novel adaptation of the Elric novels, Michael Moorcock, the original writer himself was obviously impressed enough to pen the above words. It’s easy to be cynical and slightly incredulous initially. Having read the book itself and previous comic book adaptations already, what new perspective could Blondel provide?
Directed by Sergei Bodrov
Starring Jeff Bridges, Ben Barnes, Julianne Moore.
Generally speaking, fantasy movie adaptations do not perform well at the box office, the Lord of the Rings/Hobbit and Harry Potter films, notwithstanding. Ironically, the very elements that made the original books popular are usually the first things to be changed in a movie adaptation, leaving the film an empty husk, full of cliches and tropes.
Directed by Peter Jackson.
Starring Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Evangeline Lilly, Lee Pace and Luke Evans.
How did we get here? How did the director responsible for the Best Picture of 2004 (a decade ago) morph into Michael Bay? Was it greed on the part of the studios or Peter Jackson’s hubris?
I have no answers but suffice to say that if you love over-bloated blockbuster spectacles like Transformers: Age of Extinction, then this superfluous final installment of the Hobbit trilogy is highly recommended. However, if like me, you are a huge fan of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, please avoid this shameless exercise in lining the pockets of all involved.
At least the nightmare has ended.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is in the cinemas now.
300: Rise Of An Empire (Directed by Noam Murro)
To be honest, I had low expectations for this film. When it was first announced, I felt that there was absolutely no need for a sequel to 300 and this was simply a case of the studio trying to cash in on the original’s success (almost half a billion dollars worldwide). To all intents and purposes, it seemed to me that creator Frank Miller had been coerced into producing a sequel to 300 (viz. Xerxes), which remains unpublished. All of which spelled TROUBLE.
Keanu Reeves is back in a genre film – his first since the conclusion of the Matrix trilogy. 47 Ronin is a re-telling of the classical Japanese tale of honor and revenge as a sword (or katana in this case) and sorcery fantasy. An additional twist is the inclusion of Kai – Reeves’ half-breed protagonist – to highlight the Japanese prejudice against outsiders and to provide a doomed romance.
THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG
Regular visitors will be aware that I didn’t like the first installment of this bloated adaptation of JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit. The Unexpected Journey ironically had too many familiar elements and tropes taken from The Lord of the Rings trilogy, as if director Peter Jackson was at pains to remind us of the association between the two trilogies!
(Spoilers appear below!)
Originally entitled Jack the Giant Killer, this latest Hollywood foray into the classic fairy tale update (Snow White and the Huntsman, Hansel and Gretel) looks like it might actually be worth the trouble. Directed by Bryan Singer – whose last two movies Superman Returns and Valkyrie were decidedly less than stellar – the movie tells the familiar story of a young farmhand (Jack) who must rescue a princess from a race of giants after inadvertently opening a gateway to their world.
The second trailer for Peter Jackson’s adaptation of Tolkien’s Hobbit has landed. By all accounts, An Unexpected Journey certainly appears to be lighter in tone than the Lord of the Rings trilogy – the original book was written for children, after all – and the stars of the film would definitely be the fun-loving DWARVES, represented by Gimli in LOTR but this time in full force! It’s all looking very promising but whether or not the decision to make three movies is justified or not, remains to be seen. In the meantime, look forward to December!