Sunday, July 17, 2016

The Familiarity of Boyhood.

There is a lot of my own "boyhood" that I don't really recall that well, but there are bits and pieces that I can recall quite well. I loved G.I.-Joe's, the Power Rangers, Zorro, swords, magic/fantasy, was teased by other boys, picked on by my sisters, and always loved Star Wars. Granted I had my own fair share of problems and difficulties, but there wasn't anything extraordinary that happened in my life...at least that I can recall. The 2014 film Boyhood films a fictional story about a boy growing up over 12 years, and I mean this quite literally. The filmmakers actually used the same kid over the period of 12 years to film this movie to show what an average boy goes through in his younger and formative years. Fortunately my boyhood was much more stable than this fictional kid's was. Ellar Coltrane played the main star of the film Mason, and all I can say is the poor kid cannot act, but the idea behind filming the same kid growing up over a 12 year period was cool, but they should have at least provided him with acting lessons along the way, or picked someone who could actually have acted. Lorelei Linklater played his older sister Samantha, who aged just like her co-star on screen, and just like her co-star cannot act. Patricia Arquette played the mother, and she did a very good job with her performance which felt real and passionate. At times you wanted to slap her character in the face, who made bad choice after bad choice, but her flaws made her character more real. Ethan Hawke as the father perhaps had the best character in the film, even though at the beginning you wanted to strangle his character. By the end of the film though, Mr. Hawke's character had grown so much, so much so that you ended up liking him more than the mother. When the whole family dynamic was put together it played well, and I believe that is a huge factor for a developing boy during his formative years. Richard Linklater wrote and directed the film, and honestly the concept was immeasurably fascinating and cool, but the execution not as good. The writing needed a whole lot more help, the transitions between the years weren't very smooth and two of the main characters were consistently poor at acting throughout the entire film. I was probably bored most of the film, and I kept wondering throughout the entire film how it was going to run two hours and forty-five minutes long. Somehow it managed to plug along and reach there, but it definitely wasn't a fulfilling film watching experience; I was just thankful that I had finished it finally. There isn't really much to say about the film as none of the technical aspects of the film were that good, and perhaps the editing the worst of all. The only thing the film has going for it is the entire film being shot over a 12 year span. Other than that, I really wouldn't recommend watching this film, unless you were going to show it in a psychology class or developmental class. As I mentioned last time, there really isn't any good news as the violence continues to grow on a global scale, and now I typically end a lot of text messages with "watch out for terrorists," which is no longer a joke or something that shouldn't be taken seriously. The world is much more dangerous than it ever was nine years ago. God help us all.

Making of Boyhood

Rebels Season 3 trailer (and Grand Admiral Thrawn makes his silver screen debut!)

Rogue One Celebration Reel

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Marco......Polo.....?

So I watched season 2 of Marco Polo and even though I really enjoy the series and the entire idea behind it, this most recent season wasn't as good as the first. There was some good character growth in season 2, and the production design and cinematography remained stunning, but the writing just wasn't as good as season 1, nor were the fight sequences. The final showdown between the Chancellor and Hundred Eyes from season 1 was so good, yet there wasn't anything that came even close in this season. So Kublai Khan still retains his throne and stranglehold over China and the surrounding area, but his vice-chancellor Ahmad continues to plot against him to destroy his reign and him eventually is his long term goal. Part of that plan is using Mongolian laws to take the mantle of Khan away from Kublai and give it to one of his rivals. Ironically, Kaidu (the one who would be Khan of Khans) believes that in so challenging Kublai's right to rule, he is saving the empire from becoming too "Chinese" and the protecting the Mongolian people losing their nomadic way of life along with other cultural ideology. So all of the characters were relatively good, and the actors and actresses who portrayed them delivered very well. A nice edition this season was Michelle Yeoh, but she wasn't used as well as she should have been considering her fine caliber of an actress and martial arts expertise. She and Tom Wu (Hundred Eyes) were awesome together, but the writers should have done more with that plot point than they did. I felt like Marco Polo was kind of left out of this season while many of the other characters were brought to the forefront as he was then put on the sidelines. The character of Mei Ling (played by Olivia Cheng) was one character I really enjoyed seeing on-screen of most of the characters; she was strong, intelligent, passionate, and has the keen ability to survive anything. Great traits for a great character. In regards to the writing, one problem they had throughout the second season was that there were too many plots and arcs going on that they didn't have enough time to properly and effectively explore each one and gain a fair amount of character depth. It was an entertaining season, and I love Chinese history and Asian history of that era, but it wasn't a resounding successful season in my opinion. I don't know what Netflix's problem is, but a lot of their shows start off really good, and then quickly lose steam after the first season, although with House of Cards it was after season 2. Hopefully they turn it around soon and get some better writers. I honestly don't know what's going on with Hollywood; it seems like there is a vast absence of good writers. Once again concerning international affairs there doesn't really seem to be any good news, and the trend of "out of the frying pan and into the fire" continues to remain true regarding how the state of global affairs is going. I'm going to make a fictional parallel here, but I think it works; ISIS or DAESH is very, very similar to The Brotherhood of Nod. If you haven't played any of the PC game series Command and Conquer then you won't understand the parallel, but basically the idea is that ISIS is going to be around for a very, very long time and will only become more lethal through the passage of time. And to think, it is very likely all of this could have been prevented five years ago.