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Game of Thrones: Dragonstone (2017)
Underwhelming to say the least...
I have always had a very love/hate relationship with Game of Thrones. Shortly after watching the first season I went and read all the books, and while propelling my excitement for the show to 11, this has also caused me to be constantly underwhelmed by it's interpretation of the story. No matter what the changes have been from the books, it seems the show has never failed to miss out on so much of what makes them great. I understand that there are plenty of elements of Martin's story that simply can't be done using the television format, but the differences I have usually been annoyed by are the unnecessary changes, such as how they frequently dumb down the dialogue or have characters act in a way that's blatantly out of character and nonsensical. Since the show has surpassed the timeline of the books, so significantly now that it is practically it's own separate story at this point, you would have thought that these problems couldn't continue to exist so glaringly. However, evidently that is not the case as this episode is just further proof of showrunner stupidity and lazy/stupid writing that really detracts from the show. It's sad because it stops it from being as truly incredible as it has every right to be. Having said that, I don't want to come across as just another D&D hating book purist. I always enjoy this show immensely and I'm grateful for them for creating it and doing their best to honor Martin's imagination, but the hard truth is that together they are not half as smart as him and can't create nearly as intelligent and surprising a story as his on their own. Instead they rely on tired Hollywood clichés and in-your-face storytelling that merely serves to provide cheap shocks and is often completely void of any subtlety or nuance. As a result the show is becoming increasingly predictable and generic. This is exemplified in this episode through the reasons that I will go on to state, and it is my major qualm with/reason for disappointment in this season-opener.
+ The cold open. Arya killing the Freys may have been a little too predictable and neat, but as far as getting revenge for the Red Wedding goes it was still super satisfying and awesome to behold. I love how she left Walder Frey's young wife alive to spread fear as well.
+ Jon and Sansa. The tension between the two of them was great and their whole dynamic is looking to prove very compelling.
+ Jaime and Cersei. I loved the parallels between their situation and Jon and Sansa's. Both Cersei and Sansa loved their deceased family members but are determined not to lose any more, and Jaime and Jon are both serving as voices of morality to their scheming sisters. I'm very excited to see how each of these pairings play out in future episodes.
+ The Hound with the Brotherhood. (Though it was too long.) The Hound never disappoints.
- Jon's idiotic feminist stance about how the women should fight with the men.
- Euron with his punk hipster wardrobe and general lack of believability. His dialogue was so out of place and stupid I couldn't believe it.
- Tormund and Brienne's eye-roll moment.
- Sam at the citadel. The montage of him cleaning chamber pots was so heavy handed and not funny. It went on way too long as well. The restricted section trope was a little grating in it's lack of originality. Gilly only seemed to be there so that Sam could narrate us the plot even though it was already clear enough what he was doing. His discovery of the dragonglass on Dragonstone came too easy as well IMO. Him finding Jorah in the cell was really the only good part. A pairing between the two of them should be interesting.
- Arya with the Lannister soldiers. It wasn't terrible as it showed that there is good on all sides and it contrasts well with the stark soldiers that Jaime and Briene ran into in the S2 finale, but it was awkwardly overlong and had really dumb humor.
- Dragonstone being completely empty. Wouldn't there be peasants that stayed behind when Stannis left, or at least squatters or something? It also felt weird, and had an annoying style over reality vibe, to have Deanerys and co say absolutely nothing the whole time. I guess that's a minor gripe though.
All in all it was an uneven episode that was surprisingly uneventful and accomplished almost nothing. That wouldn't have been so bad if the set up it was going for was actually well done, but it wasn't. I expect the next episodes to all be spectacular sure, but that's no excuse for this one not being great also. I give it an 8/10 which is probably more than it deserves, but it's Game of Thrones and I just can't help loving it even when it leaves me disappointed. The good news is that I still can't wait for next week!! :)
Men, Women & Children (2014)
An extraordinary film! Never have I disagreed more with a critic consensus.
Despite loving Chad Kultgen's novel, I viewed this movie with low expectations due to the overall negative reviews. To my surprise I was blown away! Jason Reitman has transferred the book perfectly to the screen, and in many ways improved upon the source material. There are changes made from the book, such as aging up all the younger characters, and cutting nearly all of Brooke and Danny's storyline. The amount of sexuality is also greatly reduced in the film, something which I felt Kultgen often included to unnecessary extents in his novel. By making these changes Reitman is able to generate characters and scenarios that are much more believable than those in the novel, resulting in a very powerful, brutally honest film, with strong resonating themes about sexual frustration and the desire for intimacy in today's modern electronic age. The casting here is inspired and the movie is full of terrific performances. Ansel Elgort is a revelation as Tim Mooney, Dean Norris from "Breaking Bad" fame, gives a heartbreaking performance as a single parent trying to connect with his football quitting, video game addicted son, and Adam Sandler is great in one of his few dramatic roles. In my opinion "Men, Women & Children" is a profound topical film that should be revered alongside such classics as "The Graduate" and "American Beauty". I hope it can eventually gain the praise and recognition it deserves.
Game of Thrones: The Children (2014)
Wow. Good but very mixed episode that covered material which should have easily made it the best of the series.
This is a great episode but it could have been so much more if it weren't for some truly head scratching omissions on the creators part. I usually don't complain, but "A Storm of Swords" is probably my favorite book of all time, and I think this episode would have measured up and met my sky high expectations if only they had included Jaime's conversation with Tyrion and the Tysha reveal. I could have forgiven all the other stupid changes and omissions if they had only kept that scene. Even cutting Lady Stoneheart I'm OK with (though maybe that's because I'm quite sure she'll still be introduced next season), but cutting the reveal for Tyrion was such a terrible idea I can't believe it. Tyrion killing Tywin and the dialog in that scene was mostly ruined as a result. I don't care if non-book readers don't remember who Tysha is. Tysha wasn't mentioned much in the books and the reveal still worked. Tyrion's character and storyline have always been my favorite from the books so I was so excited for this episode, but I guess my expectations were just too high, and I'll have to except that book Tyrion and show Tyrion are very different characters. Anyways, to me this was just a frustrating aspect of an otherwise outstanding season.