Tag: review

‘Game of Thrones’ Review: ‘The Long Night’

The latest episode of Game of Thrones was hyped beyond belief. “The Battle for Winterfell” was possibly the most anticipated episode of the season, showcasing the war between the united characters of Westeros (sans Cersei) vs. the White Walkers in what was thought to be a bloodbath of epic proportions, on par with the Red Wedding. But when the episode came roaring onto screens last night, it had some noticeable issues that, in this author’s opinion, prevented it from reaching the heights of true greatness. We’ll delve more deeply into SPOILERS in this review of “The Long Night” but before we do, here’s your chance to turn back now in case you haven’t seen the episode.

So, turn back now! Last warning?

 

Spoilers Ahead!


 

 

Alright, still here. Then let’s take a look at what worked and what didn’t in last night’s epic battle.

 

Danenyrus and Jon Snow stand on the wall of Winterfell, staring at the army of torches in the distance
IMAGE VIA THE ATLANTIC

The opening moments of the battle start off grinding out the tension. The defenders of Winterfell stand assembled. Grey Worm stands before the gates, standing stalwart with his fellow Unsullied. Jamie Lannister, Brienne of Tarth, Podrick Payne, Tormund Giantsbane, Samwell Tarly, Sandor Clegane, Beric Dondarrion, Jorah Mormont, Davos Seaworth, Ghost, and Lyanna Mormont stand among their ranks. Arya and Sansa Stark stand tall on the walls. Tyrion Lannister and Gilly hide underneath Winterfell in the crypts with the common citizens. The dragons circle overhead. Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen finally stand side by side on the highest point of the keep, staring ahead into the darkness beyond. Its so quiet you can hear a pin drop as the tension is ratcheted up beyond belief, as the characters stare off from the sanctuary of Winterfell, unable to see into the darkness beyond, waiting…waiting…for something to happen.

Melisandre arrives presently (nice to see you again!) and although Davos doesn’t trust her, he allows her inside. Melisandre gifts the soldiers of Winterfell with the blessing of the Lord of Light, making their swords alight with flame similar to Beric’s own. The army then charges off to meet the army of the dead and flaming cannonballs are fired off. They strike something ahead, engulfing the battlefield with pockets of light…showcasing a HUGE tide of wights coming out of the darkness. What follows next is one of the episode’s brilliant moments, as the POV switches back to Winterfell, with the sea of torches visible in the distance. One by one, with no sound, the torches go out. The terror at this situation is boldly felt and captures the horror of the White Walkers without them even being seen. A great artistic choice, well done!

 

 

Arya Stark fights wildly for survival as zombies surround her

Image via Vox

But that’s when the episode takes a sharp left turn towards incomprehensibility. As the wights swarm Winterfell en masse, the defenders rush out to meet them. What should be a great/terrifying action scene is unfortunately marred by one fact: you can’t see what’s happening! Between the very dark lighting, the fast paced editing, and the chaotic style of the melee itself, the action is downright incomprehensible. You can’t see what’s happening onscreen, which is problematic to follow the characters who are in real mortal peril fighting for their lives against the surge of the undead. This is a problem that pervades throughout the entire episode and unfortunately, one that brings it down considerably. Its almost impossible to tell what’s happening onscreen throughout the battle through much of its runtime and considering the sheer scale of the battle itself, this is a huge problem. We want to see what’s happening! We want to see who lives and dies! But whether through design or error, you simply can’t throughout ‘The Long Night’.

Some of these moments were obviously intentional, such as when the Night King arrives and his Walkers conjure an enormous blizzard to blind the dragons as Jon and Daenerys pursue him. This scene captures the frantic pursuit very well, being very hard to see as the dragons race around desperately through the blizzard, getting attacked at points by the Night King atop his zombie dragon and only providing brief moments of relief as the two exit the blizzard. But at other points, you simply can’t tell what’s going on, such as when Grey Worm and the Unsullied defend the gate, Jamie and Brienne fighting desperately on the walls against the endless tide, or when Arya is sneaking around inside Winterfell, trying to avoid lurking wights. The episode is unfortunately undercut by the fact that we can’t see any of it.

 

Bedric wields a flaming sword in the crypt of Winterfell
IMAGE VIA WINTER IS COMING

You could argue it is a stylistic choice in order to capture the chaotic pace of medieval warfare. However, previous episodes such as “Battle of the Bastards” embrace this as well and they weren’t nearly as visually hard to follow. You can blend the chaotic style of medieval warfare with comprehensible cinematography without an issue, as previously shown, but this episode just couldn’t do it for whatever reason.

Still, this episode was full of cool moments when we could see them. Lyanna Mormont’s death scene was a tearjerking highlight, as she faces down an undead giant that smashes its way through the gates. The monster begins butchering soldiers and slaps the little girl aside. But Lyanna gets right back up and with a scream of a warrior, charges back in towards the towering monster. The giant grabs her and begins crushing her but Lyanna, with her last breath, stabs the beast with a dragon glass dagger, killing the giant at the cost of her own life. RIP, Lyanna, you went out like a boss!

 

The Night King stands tall in a towering inferno
IMAGE VIA IGN

Other great moments included Sansa and Tyrion’s heart-to-heart scenes in the crypts as the battle raged overhead, bringing their relationship closer as they spoke of how they were nearly married, the dragon fight as Jon Snow took on the Night King’s undead mount in a midair duel to the death, and Jon Snow attempting to kill the Night King himself only to be stopped by a wall of zombies that the Night King raises from the corpses of the battlefield. The last stand of Theon Greyjoy was also a great moment of the character, as Theon faced down dozens of wights to defend Bran, getting a solemn thank you from Bran as his former brother told him he was a good man. Theon then ran at the Night King himself, only to be gutted and died. A great ending of the character and another badass exit.

Still, despite what viewers thought would be a bloodbath of an episode, there really weren’t that many ‘big’ deaths. Theon Greyjoy, of course, has been a pivotal part of the show but his importance has waned with time and he was much more of a side character in the lead up to his demise. Lyanna Mormont’s death of course was heartbreaking, but she was never a main cast member, just a member of the supporting cast to whom viewers grew attached (for good reason). Beric Dondarrion also perished but his status as a cast member is quite similar to Lyanna. Melisandre walked her last at the episode’s end but she too had been dwindling in importance and the fact that was the first time she showed up in a long while undermined her death scene, as it appeared she appeared out of the blue simply to die. Arguably the ‘biggest’ death was Jorah Mormont, who died defending Daenerys from endless waves of zombies, but even he wasn’t a main cast member either. Everyone who was on the A-list came away relatively scott-free, without even any serious injuries to show for it. Even characters who arguably should have died— i.e: Sansa and Tyrion trapped in the crypts with the undead, Samwell buried in an avalanche of wights, and Jamie and Brienne overrun by wights— survived. Honestly, it’s a little disappointing that not a single main cast member perished, especially considering Game of Thrones’s reputation of killing anyone, everyone, no matter who they are. Perhaps we overhyped ourselves but still…its disappointing nonetheless.

 

IMAGE VIA IGN

Of course, the most controversial moment will be the death of the Night King himself. The big guy perished at the hands of Arya, who shanks him with her dagger, causing the Night King to quite suddenly explode, with his entire army of zombies falling apart with his death. It is a sudden, jarring moment, perhaps somewhat anti-climatic, but one that feels more in line with the show’s desire to subvert audience expectations. One hopes we’ll learn a bit more about the White Walkers now that they’re gone, as the Night King and his troops never showed their motivations nor any real personality traits. They were just evil and while that certainly made them threatening, it would be a disappointment if they didn’t have much else going for them.

It seems now Cersei will become the threat for the reminder of the season. We’ll have to wait to see what happens but it be a bit sour to have the supposedly main threat offed and a smaller, more petty threat take his place. Still, we’re sure the showrunners have something up their sleeves.

The Battle for Winterfell proved to be a rather mixed bag. With the lighting issues, lack of character deaths, and the death of the Night King sorted in with a truly epic scale and great moments this one isn’t bad but perhaps fell short of true greatness. We can only hope Cersei proves herself to be just as a threat as the Night King’s forces but we’ll have to see.

What were your thoughts on the episode?

 

 

Featured Image Via Vox 

Shazam!

Here’s Our Review & Sneak Peek of ‘SHAZAM!’

Okay, this movie is way better than it had any business being.

I was not expecting a lot, especially after the forever lingering sting of Joss Whedon’s Justice League (Yes, I do believe that Zack Snyder’s film was basically redone), and the seemingly beginner’s-luck-success of James Wan’s epic Aquaman (which I legitimately enjoyed). However, DC has done right with bringing us Director David F. Sandberg’s Shazam! 

(Some spoilers ahead)

 

Billy Batson spent his entire childhood searching for his biological mother, and has landed in countless foster homes along the way. His latest detour finds him in the care of a family that he actually grows to love. He will have to protect his new family, and the world, against a villain who wants to steal and abuse the abilities bestowed upon him amidst a centuries old crisis.

 

Asher Angel
IMAGE VIA DC COMICS MOVIE.COM

 

Asher Angel and Zachary Levi as Billy Batson/Shazam have an unusually good consistency in their joint performance. Angel nails the angsty yet kind-hearted teen act, while Levi effortlessly portrays an excited version of the same teen who can transform into an alpha-body-builder physique equipped with magical powers at will.

Shazam!’s emotional beats are the kind you’ve come to respect as the only redeemable qualities of DC’s movies. There are moments where the characters’ emotional honesty and vulnerability really stand out among the jokes and punches. For the sake of huge spoilers, I must keep silent, but you will find yourself surprised each time you arrive at the film’s more dramatic moments.

 

Shazam Gary Frank
IMAGE VIA GARY FRANK

 

The stakes are simultaneously low and high. It never feels as though the world is in any danger, but the intensity increases as the people that Billy has come to love become more and more at risk. The comedic moments are also so well placed that it never feels as though they stand out unnecessarily. The jokes in general are real good too, and never feel forced.

Now, the key to DC’s recent successes, including Shazam!, are likely due to adapting the comics written by super-star writer, Geoff Johns. Many of Johns’s Aquaman arcs were adapted for James Wan’s film, and the same is true of Shazam! Fortunately for DC, the writer’s comic book contributions are endless, and that means more successful adaptations should be on their way.

 

 

Featured Image Via Warner Bros.

Stephen King Loves Books

Stephen King Calls This Gritty Debut A Masterpiece

Gabriel Tallent’s debut novel My Absolute Darling was released on Tuesday, August 29th, and the lit world is collectively losing its mind. 

 

Since the suspicious drowning of her mother, fourteen year old Turtle Alveston has been isolated by her father Martin, a charismatic and sociopathic survivalist convinced the world is due for a large-scale ecological disaster. An expert markswoman already, Turtle freely roams the northern California coast for miles through woods, creeks, and tide pools, while her social existence is confined to her middle school and abusive home life. My Absolute Darling tells the story of an emotionally reserved heroine determined to save herself.

 

My Absolute Darling has captured all the attention the literary world has to offer.

 

My Absolute Darling

 Image Courtesy of WSPU

 

Stephen King offered his unsolicited endorsement of the novel, his blurb reading “the word ‘masterpiece’ has been cheapened by too many blurbs, but My Absolute Darling absolutely is one.” Considering King has a ‘guilt table‘ of books awaiting his critique, this is really something! 

 

King’s praise continues, “it’s a first novel and he’s got everything working. When I read it the first thing I thought was, I couldn’t do this, and I’ve been doing it for 40 years. There are books we like well enough to recommend, but there are a very few… that we remember forever. To my own shortlist I can now add My Absolute Darling, by Gabriel Tallent…This book is ugly, beautiful, horrifying, and uplifting.”

 

It’s not just King who is going wild for Tallent’s novel. He’s been raking in praise from all sides. Get a load of these endorsements: 

 

“With its unconventional heroine and unflinching portrayal of an abused girl’s fight to save herself, “My Absolute Darling” seems poised to become the breakout debut of the year,” says Alexandra Alter from the New York Times.

 

Phil Klay, whose story collection Redeployment won the National Book Award, described it as “one of those books where you start reading and you can’t stop. Every scene in this astonishing novel packs so much tension, so much insight, such beautiful prose and such masterful handling of detail, I simply could not stop reading.”

 

Celeste Ng, New York Times-bestselling author of Little Fires Everywhere and Everything I Never Told You said it was “impossible to put down… a heartrending debut that will shock, then shake, then inspire you”.

 

Joanna Cannon from The Times (London) took to Twitter to followers to pick up “one of the most important books you will ever have the opportunity to read,” before going into more detail on a thread of replies. “We read for so (so) many different reasons: to be entertained, amused, intrigued, to be taken away from the place in which we find ourselves. But, for me, the most memorable – and the most valuable – stories are the ones that challenge me. This book has challenged me like no other. It’s almost certainly the darkest book I have ever read, but it was a story I COULD NOT LEAVE. It’s a masterpiece. A work of art on a page.”

 

“There’s no shortage of things to admire in My Absolute Darling,from NPR, calling it “a devastating and powerful debut from a writer who’s almost certain to have a wonderful career ahead of him”.

 

Gabriel Tallent

Image Courtesy of the Los Angeles Times

 

“Our generation’s next beloved literary heroine….this is one of the most important books you’ll pick up this decade.” —Harper’s Bazaar

 

“My Absolute Darling is a novel that readers will gulp down, gasping…Tallent [is a] prodigiously talented new writer.” —The Washington Post

 

“A gripping introduction to a seriously brave little girl… My Absolute Darling is an affecting read but also an important one.” — USA Today

 

“A major American debut that incorporates psychological realism of the highest order, juxtaposed with nature writing that at times is so lyrical, you might as well be reading poetry.” — The Houston Chronicle

 

“Extraordinarily unsettling and ambitious…an amazing debut.” — The San Francisco Chronicle

 

“Brilliant and terrifying, told in expansive, wild and bold prose…Reading this book is like watching an electrical storm, both beautiful and dangerous.” — The Minneapolis Star-Tribune

 

“Explosive…There are many elements of this story we would rather not believe — all so convincingly rendered that we can’t help but believe them.” — The Boston Globe

 

“The year’s must-read novel…Tallent in this debut makes an old story — the drama of coming of age — feel original and full of youthful power.“ — The Times (London)

 

The praise goes on and on and on, and we can’t wait to see what the very aptly named Tallent does next. 

 

Featured Image Courtesy of Prezi.

Feature image of Daenerys's ships sailing to Dragonstone.

Game of Thrones Can Get Confusing, but Ozzy Man Is Here to Help

With so many characters hatching schemes, even diehard “Game of Thrones” fans can get lost. Luckily, Ozzy Man has got us covered. Take a look at his hilariously understated, rapid fire recap and review of last week’s episode.

 

 

Here’s one of our favorite quotes: “[Samwell Tarly] discovers Jorah Mormont is in the sick bay. It’s got to be so hard not to pick all of those scabs.” Seeing the return of Jorah was wonderful, even if it was only his scabby arm.

 

Picture of Jorah Mormont showing off his sickly, blistered arm.

Image courtesy of Daily Express

 

New episodes of “Game of Thrones” come out Sundays 9pm EST on HBO.

 

Featured image courtesy of The Independent