Discussing X-Men: Apocalypse

Discussing X-Men: Apocalypse

Last night I finally caught a screening of the latest in the 20th Century Fox and Bryan Singer’s X-Men series. In spite of rather tepid reviews I wanted to see the film and judge it based solely on my own thoughts. Let’s get down to one simple question: Did I like it? Short answer yes, but of course I’m going to dig in and explain why. I’ve told any friend who’s asked me for a quick explanation that this film is like a grande burrito. Yes it is overstuffed, but it’s a burrito so it’s fucking delicious. At the end I’m going to throw in my two cents on why I think the reviews haven’t been all that warm. So without further ado, let’s talk about ninth film of this series. One final thing, SPOILERS will be in this article. You’ve been warned.

-Plot-

The film opens in Ancient Egypt as we see our main antagonist of the film Apocalypse transferring his consciousness into another mutant’s body. Knowing his reign will bring disaster to humanity some rebels in his ranks sabotage the temple he’s in sealing it up… until 1983. Of course Apocalypse gets lose and decides humanity has built a world that worships false gods and must be cleansed. In doing so he recruits his Four Horseman: Storm who is living in Egypt as a pickpocket, Angel who is forced to battle in underground mutant fight clubs, Psylocke who is working as muscle for a mutant information broker, and Magento. I’ll talk more about him in a moment as there’s a lot to cover. The school is back on it’s feet with Charles and Hank taking in new students every day. We’re introduced to Jean Grey, Nightcrawler, Cyclops, and Jubilee as new students. And of course Moira MacTaggert is back to provide exposition and give a much needed romance for Charles. That’s broad enough, now let’s dig into smaller plots. I’ve loved seeing how James McAvoy’s performance has evolved over the course of three films. In First Class he was an optimistic idealist, in Days of Future Past he became a broken man cynical to humanity, and with Apocalypse he’s come full circle to the wise professor we knew he’d become. As always Michael Fassbender brought his A game to portray Magento. You truly feel happy to see him living a normal life… for about fifteen minutes. Once he’s exposed an armed posse comes to take him in and ends up accidentally murdering his wife and daughter. So we’ve got the personal stakes set for the film. But then comes the obvious stakes. Of course bad things have to happen to the world and only our heroes can save us. It’s a comic book film, what else can happen? And yes, things get convoluted as the story progresses and we end up taking a detour at the midpoint for a Wolverine cameo that didn’t feel necessary. But thankfully the film was never incoherent. If you’ve seen the previous film and have a general knowledge of them you’ll be fine.

-Cast-

As I’ve always said, the cast has always been the strongest part of the series and this one is no different. We know going in that veterans like Hoult, Fassbender, McAvoy, and Lawrence are going to do well, but what about the rest? For me the most surprising performance was Sophie Turner as Jean Grey. In the past five seasons of Game of Thrones she’s been given very little material to show any range, so I never took notice. But with this role and GoT’s current season she’s proving that she has chops. I liked seeing Jean more restrained and frightened, but finally coming to terms with the full extent of her power by the end. The other big win was Kodi Smit-McPhee as Nightcrawler. It was going to take a lot to measure up to Alan Cumming’s perfect portrayal from X2: X-Men United and McPhee did it. He knew how to balance Kurt’s innocence and humor properly. In all honesty I’ve never been a Cyclops fan be it in comics, the animated series, or the live action films. I didn’t expect much from the role. I’ve got to give Tye Sheridan credit, he played Scott a lot less dickish than Marsden ever did. It helped me actually enjoy the character more this time around. It was nice to see Rose Byrne back in the series as Moira’s relationship with Charles in First Class was always something I thought was ripe with potential. Seeing how she’s moved on since Charles removed her memories from their time together is a little sad. But it’s funny seeing him become a befuddled teenager the moment they re-unite. I hope they continue this relationship in future installments. Evan Peters once again steals his scenes in the role of Quicksilver. His speed running scene in this one may be even better than the one in the previous film. Not to mention everyone who got pissed off that he was left behind instead of fighting in Days of Future Past will be extremely happy to see him kick some ass.

-What I Didn’t Like-

No film is perfect and there are going to be flaws, but what I didn’t like are pretty much nitpicks. First there was limited screentime which meant a few characters got shortchanged. I can not believe they set up Jubilee only to do nothing with her in this film. I guess we’ll have to wait for the sequel. Psylocke and Angel also get little to do in their Horsemen roles and it was a little upsetting. Sure their action scenes are cool, but that’s about it. And of course, Apocalypse himself has problems. Much like the majority of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s villains we don’t get all that much from Apocalypse’s motivation. Oscar Isaac dig the best he could being buried under all that make-up, but I never felt he was all that menacing or had a good reason to be evil. And as I mentioned earlier the Wolverine cameo was nice, but completely pointless. All it did was give us one cool scene, but it could’ve been cut out and saved the movie some time. All minor issues, but we had to talk about them.

-Why Do I Think Critics Didn’t Like it-

This is something that bothers me. The film currently sits at 47% on Rotten Tomatoes and that’s not an ideal score. Look at it this way. the only other film from the series that has a lower score is X-Men Origins: Wolverine at 38%. Even X-Men: The Last Stand holds a 58% rating. So what gives? In my honest opinion this is all because of Deadpool coming out last February. I assume that after Deadpool was such a huge hit and did something completely different with the X-Men series critics saw Apocalypse as a set backwards. So instead of judging the film based on it’s own merit they took unrealistic expectations set by Deadpool and applied them here. And if that is the case it’s completely unfair. It’d be like comparing an amazing one shot comic to an issue from a series run. I think given time this film will get  more praise, especially from the fans.

These are my thoughts on X-Men: Apocalypse, but as usual what are yours? Did you like the film? Are you ready to see these younger actors take over the roles? What did you think of the post-credits scene? I’m also going to leave links below for all my other recent X-Men related articles. As always, thanks for reading.

https://sdfilmthoughts.wordpress.com/2016/05/27/looking-back-at-x-men-days-of-future-past/

https://sdfilmthoughts.wordpress.com/2016/05/25/why-i-love-the-wolverine/

https://sdfilmthoughts.wordpress.com/2016/05/16/fun-things-from-the-deadpool-commentary-part-2/

https://sdfilmthoughts.wordpress.com/2016/05/14/looking-back-at-x-men-the-last-stand/

https://sdfilmthoughts.wordpress.com/2016/05/12/fun-things-from-the-deadpool-commentary-part-1/

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PG-13 Horror Films I Love Watching

PG-13 Horror Films I Love Watching

There has always been an assumption that when it comes to horror films an R rating guarantees a horrifying experience, while a PG-13 rating will be toothless. Yes, the 2000’s got polluted with some of the worst commercial horror films in a long time. And believe me, we’ll dig into those terrible films somewhere down the line. But today I wanted to look at a handful of films that prove terror knows no rating limitations.

-Krampus-

Let’s start this list off with a very recent film. Krampus hit theaters last December just in time for the holiday season. I have to admit that I was totally game for this film when I saw Michael Dougherty was directing. The man knocked it out of the park with 2009’s Trick ‘r Treat and doesn’t seem to be slowing down. While previous horror films have been set around Christmas (i.e Black Christmas, Silent Night Deadly Night, Christmas Evil), but this film took an already terrifying holiday myth and brought it to the big screen. Aside from a truly stellar cast (including Adam Scott, Toni Collette, and David Koechner) this film did something that I truly loved, it used predominantly practical F/X to bring it’s creatures to life.

-The Final Girls-

It’s a thankless job to blend the horror and comedy genres. Go too scary and you alienate non-horror fans, go too comedic and you’ve delved into parody. The Final Girls struck a fun balance that has been sorely missed since Scream 2. I enjoy how this film lovingly poked fun at many classic 80’s horror film tropes. Basic plot synopsis, normal people get pulled into an 80’s horror film and chaos ensues. The best part is that there is some actual emotional resonance to the story. One of the normal people pulled into the film had a mother who died in a car crash. The twist: her mother starred in the film they’ve entered. It gives the lead some very interesting moral dilemmas to deal with. Is this person she’s interacting with in fact her younger mother, or is she nothing more than a film character? Definitely worth the rental.

-The Ring-

Gore Verbinski’s filmography is one of the biggest head scratchers in recent memory. The man has made a family comedy (Mouse Hunt), adult dramedies (The Mexican, The Weather Man), an animated film (Rango), some of Disney’s biggest moneymakers of the 2000’s (Pirates of the Caribbean 1-3), and one of Disney’s biggest money losers of the 2010’s (The Lone Ranger). But the biggest oddity is the 2002 J-horror remake The Ring. Not only did he craft a truly unsettling movie, it also ushered in a long string of Americanized remakes of Asian horror films to mostly diminishing success. Verbinski’s background in directing music videos worked to his advantage as he brought some truly creepy images to the big screen. Nearly fourteen years later and this film is still a worthy entry in 2000’s rather sad state of horror.

-The Insidious Series-

For over a decade the Torture Porn subgenre dominated horror to mixed success. Funny that the duo who are considered responsible for the birth of the genre crafted a franchise that stands as a polar opposite to it. James Wan and Leigh Whannell not only wanted to prove that there was more to them than splattering blood everywhere, but go against the very tropes of traditional horror films. What we got was a chilling ghost film that told such a story in a very different fashion. We can question the first film’s finale and whether the sequels are all that good, but for all three when they hit scary notes they hit them hard and left a huge impression.

-Drag Me To Hell-

After crafting some of the best low budget horror films of the 80’s with The Evil Dead and Evil Dead II Sam Raimi built a career that is impressive in it’s diversity and evolution. Raimi never seemed to be someone willing to be complacent and made films that got bigger in scope almost every time. After wrapping up his Spider-Man series Raimi went back his horror roots with Drag Me To Hell. Costing just over a tenth of his previous film (Spider-Man 3’s budget was a staggering $258 million while Drag Me To Hell cost a mere $30 million) the man proved his visuals weren’t contingent on cash. With an unsettling opening we’re pushed into the life of a bank loan officer (Alison Lohman) who after pissing off an old lady gets cursed and will be pulled to Hell in a mere three days. Over the course of those three days she’s plagued with ghastly hauntings that culminate in possibly the creepiest seance in film history. As always, Raimi brings a very dark humor to his horror stories. The fight scene between Christine and Mrs. Ganush in the car is a perfect example of slapstick in horror. I actually liked this movie so much it’s one of the few that I did a second viewing in the theater. It’s that good in my opinion.

These are just a few PG-13 horror films I love, but there are many others out there. And as usual, what are your thoughts? Do you think horror films are best served with as harsh a rating as possible? Are you a fan of gore or tension in horror films? Let me know. Thanks for reading.

PS: You can follow me on Twitter @SDFilmThoughts for more fun witticisms and anecdotes.

Looking Back at X-Men: Days of Future Past

Looking Back at X-Men: Days of Future Past

This weekend X-Men: Apocalypse hits theaters in the United States (I hope to catch a showtime in the next few days and can give my opinion) and I wanted to look back two years removed at X-Men: Days of Future Past. I was excited yet skeptical how Bryan Singer and co. were going to condense this complex narrative into a 131 minute film. As a kid I read the comic run, watched the X-Men animated series adaptation, and have waited to see Sentinels get incorporated into the film series (sans that Danger Room severed head cameo in number three). So let’s dig in and discuss this ambitious blockbuster.

-Plot-

The film retains the basic narrative from the comics. In the future Sentinels are hunting, imprisoning, and killing all mutants. The last remaining X-Men decide the only way to preserve the world is to go into the past to stop the catalyst that set off this grim future. In the original comic it was Kitty Pryde who went into the past to warn the others. And in the animated series they sent Bishop back. For the film they send Wolverine into the past and let’s face it we all know why. Hugh Jackman has become the face (a damn sexy face) of the films and said face sells tickets. It also helps that Wolverine is one of the only X-Men old enough to be alive in the past. In the original comic it was Senator Kelly who was the target for assassination, but since he had been used as an antagonist in previous films they used the creator of the Sentinels himself, Bolivar Trask. I could continue to compare, but let’s focus on the film itself. Time-travel stories are a difficult nut to crack and need to set ground rules as to how time works in the narrative. Thankfully the film doesn’t get bogged down in it’s own set rules and focuses on characters. It’s agonizing to see Charles Xavier in a very broken state. The man we’ve always known for his strength and compassion is bitter and cynical. We root to see him get back on the path we know he’ll end up taking. The moments in the future are also poignant. Seeing Magneto admit to Xavier that what he did was wrong and asking forgiveness for all those years of hostilities is powerful. On the whole they did a great job distilling the story down to it’s core and making it work in film form.

-Cast-

I’ve mentioned many times before that with every X-Men film this is where the real power of the franchise lays. This time around though it’s even more impressive as we get to see the cast from the original series and the prequel series in the same film. There are so many talented actors crammed into this it’s unbelievable. While First Class showcased Michael Fassbender’s talent this time around James McAvoy gets to shine. He portrays Xavier’s bitter and broken side so well. And the moment where he and Patrick Stewart come face to face is fantastic. How would you react if you got to talk to an older version yourself? Much of the cast (especially from the original series) get minor moments, but no real time to stand out. Nicholas Hoult continues to shine as Beast and they even refined his make-up to make it look more in tone with how he’d look in The Last Stand. My biggest nitpick is that with Jennifer Lawrence’s growing popularity meant Mystique’s presence was expanded and she spent less time in the make-up. I really like Lawrence, but it felt like they were doing this to pull in Hunger Games fans who had no interest in an X-Men film. And before I cap this off I must bring up Peter Dinklage’s Bolivar Trask. Dinklage is a phenomenal actor and he plays Trask with such a grace. I always find villains who think what they’re doing is justifiable and rational intriguing. Not to mention Dinklage’s power stache, the real star of the film.

-The Rogue Cut-

With such a stacked cast screentime for characters was a rare commodity. This meant in the theatrical release Anna Paquin’s Rogue was reduced to a mere cameo in the final scene. About a year after the theatrical release came the blu-ray the “Rogue Cut”, an extended version that added an entire subplot and few additional scenes for good measure. As we saw in the theatrical version when Wolverine spots Stryker in the past it triggers a violent episode in the future causing him to hit Kitty with his claws. In the Rogue cut the team sees Kitty is fading and decide they have only one option. Breaking into a mutant prison they get Rogue and return with her to take over Kitty’s phasing power. The additional scenes peppered in are also interesting. We get to see a moment between Beast and Mystique that was sorely lacking in the theatrical release. There were also a few moments that helped clear up continuity issues. While at the mansion Mystique sabotages Cerebro which explained why Xavier and co. didn’t try to use it to track her. At the end of the prison escape we see a severed Sentinel hand grasping to Blackbird as they return to the temple. Now we get a clear idea as to how the Sentinels tracked the X-Men to their hideout. There was also a funny mid-credits scene that showed Bolivar Trask incarcerated in Magento’s cell under the Pentagon. It didn’t add much, but it was nice to see where he ended up. So, which cut of the film is better? Honestly, neither. The theatrical cut is leaner, but the Rogue cut gives you more plot. Depending on my mood I’ll watch either one.

So, as it stands what do I think of the film in relation to the rest of the series? It’s tough, I think X2 and First Class are the best and The Wolverine is an underrated gem, but Days of Future Past comes in a close fourth. It’s good, but my own personal tastes put it there. As usual, what are your thoughts? Where would you rank Days of Future Past in the series? Are you excited for Apocalypse this weekend? Let me know. And if you’re interested I’ll leave links to all of my recent X-Men oriented articles below. Thanks for reading.

https://sdfilmthoughts.wordpress.com/2016/05/25/why-i-love-the-wolverine/

https://sdfilmthoughts.wordpress.com/2016/05/16/fun-things-from-the-deadpool-commentary-part-2/

https://sdfilmthoughts.wordpress.com/2016/05/14/looking-back-at-x-men-the-last-stand/

https://sdfilmthoughts.wordpress.com/2016/05/12/fun-things-from-the-deadpool-commentary-part-1/

Why I Love The Wolverine

Why I Love The Wolverine

The X-Men film series got it’s start nearly sixteen years ago and after sequels, prequels, spin-offs, and a sequel/prequel/attempt to fix continuity it’s still going strong. But in the series there’s one entry that tends to get overlooked. I remember people not being all that excited about The Wolverine after the previous solo film left a lot to be desired. And in spite of being a much better story it still has fairly mixed reviews. So today I wanted to discuss why I think this is the 2nd best X-Men film (X2 and First Class tie for first place) of the entire series.

-Post Last Stand Storyline-

I recently wrote about the third entry in the X-Men saga (I’ll leave a link at the end of the article) and how it felt very much like the definitive end to the stories moving forward in the timeline. And it seemed like with X-Men: First Class having been released two years prior to this that was the case. Thankfully, The Wolverine decided to set it’s story after The Last Stand. We get to see how some of the repercussions from that film ended up haunting Logan (I’ll dive into that more shortly). All the other films didn’t get to do much with this point of the timeline and with Days of Future Past’s retcon of continuity they probably won’t. I would have loved to have seen at least one film show the fall-out from “The Cure” and how it affected the mutant community for better or worse.

-Logan’s Broken Psyche-

It’s fair to say that Wolverine has never been the most stable X-Men character in the franchise. But that’s also what makes him one of the most fascinating. Within the films it’s set-up to pull apart this web of mysteries that surrounded his life before the X-Men. What The Wolverine did was take this a step further. It’s no longer what Logan can’t remember that haunts him, but what he can’t forget. In order to protect quite possibly the entire world Logan killed Jean Grey. Anyone who is forced to kill the woman they love is going to have some serious issues. So seeing Logan, a character who is nearly unkillable and seen the worse of humanity over centuries of violence giving up on life is a poignant idea.

-Less Mutant Oriented-

This may seem like a paradoxical argument, but let me continue. Yes, this is X-Men the series that is all about mutants, but just because you can have characters with abilities doesn’t mean it’ll make for a better story. One of my major issues with both The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine is the over-saturation of mutant characters to their stories. While the first two films always made sure to use and explain characters abilities within the context of the story, once other directors (and studio mandates) got into the series it became more about what’s “cool” than what’s cohesive. Thankfully, there are only three (including our title character) major mutant roles in the entire film and their mutations are actually integral to the plot. Yukio’s (Rila Fukushima) precognitive ability about seeing everyone’s deaths is an important piece to a story that’s all about Logan’s mortality. And while Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova) may not have gotten as much screentime to flesh out her character we understand the importance of her ability in relation to working for Yashida. It’s also funny to point out that none of the mutants have excessively “showy” powers. There’s no lightning bolts or optic blasts getting tossed around which gives this film a refreshing feel.

-The Story:Action Ratio-

Tying into the previous “less showy” comment I wanted to discuss this tidbit. Of course this film has some impressive action scenes as any X-Men film should. But director James Mangold struck a terrific balance between character beats and action beats. There are some great action scenes in this film. The whole bullet train fight is fun and tense to watch. On the other end of that is all the subtle moments that happen between Logan and Mariko (Tao Okamoto) throughout the story. And look at the first act of the film. There’s no real action within those moments, but it’s compelling to watch because we’re seeing Logan at his lowest point. I will admit that the end face-off between Logan and the Silver Samurai isn’t the best, but the action scene of Logan arriving at the facility is thoroughly entertaining.

-Casting Mostly Japanese Actors-

This may sound like a silly thing to bring up considering the film is set in Japan, but come on. One of the recent topics of conversation in Hollywood has been “whitewashing” characters or locations for whatever reason the studio or director gives to the press. And yes, our lead actor in the this film is white, but at least most of the supporting cast is Japanese. This actually makes the film feel less like a Hollywood blockbuster and more like a sweeping epic in my opinion. Plus, if you’re going to tell a story about Logan set in Japan you might as well do it right the first time and not have to fix it with a reboot.

-Hugh Jackman Giving Everything to the Role-

It’s not news that Hugh Jackman loves portraying Wolverine in the X-Men films. But unlike some actors who look at their first big role in a Hollywood film as just a stepping stone he’s stuck with this character through thick and thin. And the fact that he does it with such dedication is unbelievable. For this film alone he put on a huge amount of muscle mass. Also, he wouldn’t consume liquids 36 hours prior to filming his shirtless scenes in order to give his figure a more exaggerated look. This man wanted to put the best representation of Wolverine on the big screen and in my opinion he succeeded.

As usual what are your thoughts? Did you enjoy The Wolverine? Do you prefer your X-Men films to be more ensemble pieces? Like me, are you upset knowing that Jackman will end his run in this role after the third Wolverine film?

Also, here’s the link to that previous article I posted as promised. Give it a look if you’re bored. And as always, thanks for reading.

https://sdfilmthoughts.wordpress.com/2016/05/14/looking-back-at-x-men-the-last-stand/

Game of Thrones Season 6: So Far

Game of Thrones Season 6: So Far

With the airing of last Sunday’s episode “The Door” we’re now at the middle of this season of Game of Thrones. Today I wanted to take a look at (Mostly) everything in these five episodes and possibly offer some guesses as to what we could be seeing in the next five episodes. Please note off the bat that this article is going to be riddled with a lot of *SPOILERS*, so if you haven’t seen any of season six and don’t want spoilers I’d recommend you stop reading right now. Alright, now is your last chance to click out. Still here? Excellent, lets begin.

-The Starks-

Yes, our favorite and most likely to be murdered family is still trying to keep things together. After the ambiguous fate of Jon Snow at the end of season five we’re given a rather definitive answer. Or so we think. I was one of those people who assumed Snow wasn’t dead for long. It has been nice seeing once Jon was resurrected he’s become less of a goody two shoes. Sansa has been getting the shit end of the stick for a long time. With two of her three past husbands being psychos it was only a matter of time before she decided to take her fate into her own hands. In the past Sansa has been a rather bland character in my opinion. She seems to always be more of a passenger in her own story than a driving force. But that has definitely changed. It’s good to see her become more proactive. Arya continues her training to become a Faceless (Wo)Man after being blinded and cast out last season. Through some redemption she regained both, but there’s still some hesitancy in her to fully embrace her future. Bran is still training with the Three-Eyed Raven and through this training we get a glimpse into the past. One of these flashbacks may in fact have given us a hint as to Jon Snow’s true parentage. Of course this doesn’t last long as Bran screws up and reigns a boatload of trouble on everyone in the cave with him. Oh, and Rickon is now in the hands of Ramsay Bolton if you cared.

-The Lannisters-

Cersei, Jaime, and Tommen are all neck deep in problems after Cersei let the High Sparrow and his cohorts loose to do her dirty work. It’s always nice to see the Lannisters get their just deserts. But I think it’s safe to assume they’re down, but not out at this point. On a more brighter side Tyrion continues to prove himself a valuable asset to Daenerys in her absence. As he tries to keep peace in Meereen with Varys we see his wisdom prove to be useful and diplomatic in maintaining the fragile alliance struck. It’s nice seeing his time as Hand of the King is proving useful. Could it mean that position will be in his future? I certainly hope so.

-The Boltons-

Just when you think the series killed off the most detestable character with Joffrey you get someone just as bad… if not worse in Ramsay. Is it more horrifying to deal with a psychotic asshole who’s a rich self-entitled prick or a psychotic asshole who’s had to claw his way to the top and hasn’t been afraid to get his hands dirty in the process? This detestable heap of excrement has been murdering to keep a tight grip on the North and now that two Starks are coming after him he might be in for a fight. In spite of the fact that he’s got a bargaining chip in Rickon we might see the Boltons reign come to an end. It’s been nice to see all the conspirators in The Red Wedding meeting a painful end.

-Daenerys Targaryen-

After being saved from the vicious attack in Meereen, Daenerys gets dropped into the Dothraki’s hands. With news of Drogo’s death a new Khal forces her join a bunch of other Dothraki spinsters in a proto-Red Hat Society. This doesn’t sit well with the Mother of Dragons who traps the Khals in building and burns it down. The remaining Dothrakis (along with Jorah and Daario who arrived in a half-baked rescue plan) bow to her. Looks like her cause to reclaim the Iron Throne continues to grow.

-The Greyjoys-

Having finally reclaimed a piece of his former self Theon returns to the Iron Islands where he finds out about his father Balon’s death. His sister Yara assumes he plans to take the throne for himself, but after his mismanagement of Winterfell it looks like there’s no remaining interest in ruling. As Yara begins to rally support to her cause their delusional uncle Euron comes into undermine her. In spite of admitting  his hand in killing Balon people rally around him and he is crowned king. In the meantime Yara and Theon steal the entire Iron Fleet and set sail.

-Death Death Death-

In typical Game of Thrones fashion many people have been knocked off in the span of half a season. It would appear that leaders are on the chopping block this year. Ramsay killed not only his father Ruse, but his stepmother, and infant half-brother to protect his future. Euron killed his brother take over the Iron Islands. Rightfully so, Jon Snow had all the men who had a hand in his death hung including Olly. Fucking Olly man, you deserved it. And now we get to the more tragic side of this. Yep, we have to talk about characters we actually care about who kicked the bucket. After getting caught with Rickon, Osha tries her best to seduce and murder Ramsay. Unfortunately, Theon revealed to Ramsay how Osha pulled the same scam on him previously and she ends up with a knife to the throat. Rest in peace one of our favorite wildlings. And of course with the last minutes of the fifth episode came the death of our favorite one word man, Hodor. Due to Bran’s stupidity the White Walkers attack the cave and in his last moments he’s forced to “Hold the Door” to help Bran and Meera escape. Ugh, talk about gut-wrenching stuff.

-What’s Next?-

With five episodes left there’s a lot of possibilities. It’s safe to assume Daenerys will probably return to Meereen, but who knows if she’ll be happy with Tyrion and Varys work in her stead. We might finally get to see how much power Jon has when he doesn’t let his pesky morals get in the way. We can only hope that Ramsay finally meets a horrible, but much deserved death. But most importantly, will Brienne and Tormund  hook up before the end of the season? I honestly hope so.

As usual, what are your thoughts? Are you pleased with how season six is shaping up? Is there anything that they’ve kind of glossed over that you want fleshed out? Are you hoping Sam and Gilly pop back up? And seriously, how much do you want to see Brienne and Tormund hook up?

Of course, if you want to you can follow me on Twitter @SDFilmThoughts for more random crap about movies, TV, and online content. It’s not like the Internet isn’t already clogged up with enough of that. Thanks for reading.

Sequels to Comedies

Sequels to Comedies

Let’s face it, sequels are always going to be made to successful films. And as studios continue to look for more sure-fire options to make money they’re going to rely on finding ways to re-package something popular and sell it to consumers as many times as possible until they can’t make money from it (i.e. The Law of Diminishing Returns). And while the comic book, horror, and action genre seem to do fine for the most part crafting sequels comedy is a different story. And with films like Zoolander 2 and Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising already out the gate I wanted to look at how and why these sequels can succeed/fail.

-When Sequels Succeed-

There are the occasional sequels that can be just as much, if not more fun than their predecessors. 22 Jump Street upped the game of the previous film with the help of a bigger budget and a little more creative freedom. The same can be said for the often well regarded Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. So what sets these apart from the majority? First I’d have to say that they explore new ground that the originals left untouched. With Jump Street we saw how Schmidt pulling away from Jenko affected their relationship, but in the sequel it was flipped around. Now Schmidt is once again the “cool” kid and it upsets the dynamic in a different way. With The Spy Who Shagged Me we got to see our hero become less self-confident. With the theft of his “mojo” the suave-ish Austin Powers now lacks any true esteem in his masculinity and he begins to question himself. It’s interesting to watch as the overly-confident hero from the last film is now having an existential crisis. That’s a very rare thing to see most other genres let alone comedy. The other thing both of these films do right is lampoon their own style. What was a funny joke in the previous film may get tweaked enough to give it a fresh and sometimes funnier delivery.

-When Sequels Fail-

Okay, we already know that nine times out of ten a comedy isn’t going to be funny. It’s one of the most difficult genres to crack as it’s one of the most subjective art-forms out there. What I find funny and what most of the people reading this find funny will probably not sync up. Which is extremely difficult when you come to realize that everyone tends to “get” drama films or action films. Neither have a wide spectrum for interpretation. But look at comedy’s wide range. There’s dark humor (Coen Brothers), slapstick (Much of the original black and white comedies), gross-out (Pretty much anything made by the Frat Pack), and sketch (SNL and a lot of Comedy Central shows) to name just a few. So right off the bat the deck is stacked against the creator, but what if they succeed? What comes next? More often than not comedies are written with the intention of making you laugh for 90+ minutes and being done. Rarely are stories left open-ended to make a follow-up. This means that a new hook has to be crafted in order to propel the story forward. The only problem is finding a new hook is extremely difficult. So instead of waiting it out most writers will re-use the original film’s formula hoping to replicate the success. This is by no means a problem that plagues only comedy sequels, but for some reason it’s most noticeable in comedy. Whether it be The Hangover Part II or Dumb and Dumber To they try to replicate with no deviation. It’s like eating leftovers that are a few years old. Even worse are comedies that truly serve no purpose but to shamelessly cash in on a hit. The biggest offenders of this are the pop culture garbage heaps that are Weekend at Bernie’s II and Caddyshack 2. Neither of them should even exist, but do because some studio executive thought they could make money and farted out scripts with no real expectation of the product being good. It’s brand recognition at it’s worse.

As usual, what are your thoughts? What comedy sequels do you think stand beside their predecessor? Do you just hate sequels overall? What comedy recently made could have a good sequel?

The X-Files: What I Thought of Season 10

The X-Files: What I Thought of Season 10

It has been three months since the finale of the latest season of The X-Files. I really wanted to take my time and properly digest all these episodes had to offer before talking about them. Unlike your standard season of twenty-some episodes this time around we got a six episode mini-season. It was composed of every single conceivable style of episode that was traditionally found in The X-Files. I’m going to talk about each episode separately and my personal thoughts on them. But first, a little background on my fan relationship to this series.

-Where it Started-

The X-Files kicked off it’s first season in the fall of 1993 and I can’t say that I got to watch it then. I was in fact five years old at the time, so even if I had wanted to watch it my mom probably would’ve stopped me. It was my older brother, in his teens at the time who became the first fan in my family. A few years down the line when I was nine and The X-Files was at the peak of it’s popularity was when I took notice. It was season five and the movie that pulled me in and since then I’ve kept a vested interest in adventures of Mulder and Scully. I own all nine seasons and the two films on various forms of physical media and was even one of the few people who saw The X-Files: I Want to Believe in theaters. So when it was announced that David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson were returning the small screen for a limited run I was doing backflips. So what did I actually think of this return? Let’s find out.

-My Struggle-

Picking up fourteen years after the original series finale (And not acknowledging the previous film, but whatever) those not up to speed on the mythology get a quick explanation before diving in. Fox Mulder is pulled back into the fray by Dana Scully and Walter Skinner to look in on a woman’s claims of alien fetal harvesting and a loudmouth conspiracy theorist/webcaster preaching of shadowy government cover-ups. It was an adequate way to bring people back into this world. But it never really went above and beyond. This was suppose to be a triumphant return of a beloved series and yet it felt run of the mill. I will give it credit for ending on a very strong note.

-Founder’s Mutation-

Written and directed by original series regular James Wong this definitely feels like something straight from that era. Medical experimentation and the supernatural abilities a human can possess are the crux of this episode’s story. Pretty standard stuff for the most part. It’s a good episode and takes the viewer away from the mythology.

-Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster-

Confession time, this to me was the best episode of the season. I’ve always enjoyed the funnier episodes of the series (Bad Blood is one of my favorites) and this was hilarious. Written by Darin Morgan (who also wrote season three’s episode Jose Chung’s From Outer Space) Mulder and Scully are called in to investigate a dead body that was severely mangled by some creature. Mulder meets “Guy Mann” a lizard person who after being bit by a human begins to transform into one himself. In a hilarious play on the “man into monster” trope we see them flip the script. How would a creature handle having to adapt to life as a human? Throw in that it’s Rhys Darby in the role of Guy and you’ve got comedic gold. One of the other pieces I like about this episode is seeing Mulder question his belief in the supernatural. While away from the X-Files many cases have been solved and proven to have logical explanations. It’s interesting to see an almost mid-life crisis in Mulder and how meeting Guy re-affirms his beliefs. There’s also touching references to Kim Manners and Jack Hardy both of whom worked with Chris Carter previously and passed away since the last X-Files film.

-Home Again-

A throwback to the dark “Monster of the Week” episodes, Home Again was the scariest episode of the season. I loved that the story took on how gentrification pushes those less desirable out of a place they’ve been forced to live in. How an emotion in art can unintentionally bring forth something malevolent. The violence took me back to a dirtier time in The X-Files when you had episodes like “Home” (no relation to this episode) and “Our Town” airing on TV.

-Babylon-

Now we dip into the supernatural side of The X-Files. With a man in a vegetative state after a bombing, Mulder and Scully face a ticking clock as another attack is imminent and this man is the only one with the information to stop it. Mulder has one idea on how to make contact with the man involving hallucinogens while Scully tries to have another agent speak Arabic and gauge the man’s ECG reactions. While tripping Mulder sees weird things in a cowboy bar while jamming to Billy Ray Cyrus and that’s just for starters. I have mixed feelings about this episode. I like the “A” plot of the story, but I just didn’t find the introduction of Agents Einstein and Miller all that interesting. It felt as though FOX and Carter were testing the waters to see how these two would handle taking over The X-Files. It’s a shame as I really like both Lauren Ambrose and Robbie Amell as actors. I will say for those of you who have not seen the episode there’s a fantastic set of cameos that made me smile when they popped up.

-My Struggle II-

Bookending the season with another mythology episode that shows in Mulder and Scully’s absence these past few years things have reached a boiling point. Citizens begin to get sick from alien DNA stripping away their immune systems making them extremely susceptible to illness. We begin to see how the past has come to bite our heroes in the ass and how they must “Fight the Future”. This has to be one of the biggest cliffhangers The X-Files ever left us with. We’re left to wonder, “What does this mean for season eleven!?”

In a nutshell, this season has it’s ups and downs, but it’s The X-Files and that’s enough to keep me invested. So long as Anderson and Duchovny are willing to return I’ll watch it. I do hope that FOX announces season eleven, preferably in the next few minutes. As usual, what are your thoughts? Have you been a fan of The X-Files since the beginning? Did you like season ten? What would like to see another season get made?

Want to read even more ridiculous thoughts from my brain? Follow me on Twitter @SDFilmThoughts. Thanks for reading.