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Is a ‘Game of Thrones’ Hit Movie at All Realistic?

Fri, 10 Nov 2017 08:36:04 +0000

 With the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones in the offing, it has left many fans wanting new ways to get their GoT fix. With only two novels remaining also, it has led fanatics to lead calls for a box office movie – something we believe would be an enormous hit around the globe! The seed of a Game of Thrones Hollywood movie was sown back in 2015 when a British newspaper revealed that George R.R. Martin had intimated that a movie could well happen, but he would not be involved in the storyline. More intriguingly, the rumors of a GoT movie have been fuelled further by claims from veteran actor, Charles Dance. Despite his character’s demise in the latest series, Dance would be one of the last actors you’d expect to lie about such speculation. When promoting one of his most recent movies, The Imitation Game, Dance confirmed that conversations are already happening. “There’s talk of eventually trying to do a feature film, but I don’t know which of the storylines. There’s so much to cram into a film,” Dance told The Daily Beast. Admittedly, Dance makes a very salient point about the fact that translating such a complex and multi-faceted storyline into a Hollywood blockbuster would be a challenge for even the most experienced film director. In fact, some GoT fans may feel that a 100-minute film would fail to do the characters and the plotline justice, short-changing many of the characters’ personalities in the process. On the other hand, the brand is now a global phenomenon and it would be hard for the show’s actors and actresses to turn down multi-million-dollar contracts to appear on the big screen. One potential angle could be to set the film within a GoT setting but focus only on a single character and their trials and tribulations in order to provide a meaningful storyline for the fans. There is no doubt that the franchise has thrived beyond the confines of our television screens. GoT has already made huge strides in the gaming world, including a hugely popular slot game at William Hill, which enables players to attempt to make their way to the Iron Throne as part of a 15-payline slot game. In addition, the eponymous Game of Thrones computer game was released back in May 2012 to much fanfare. The action role-playing game, based on the initial ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ novel by George R.R. Martin, enables fans and gamers alike to explore one of the most enchanting worlds in medieval-fantasy literature. There is always a slight fear that a Game of Thrones movie would be a box office flop. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time that a successful fantasy TV series had failed to capture the imagination on the big screen, with The Golden Compass a perfect case in point. Nevertheless, with so many directions that GoT could take for a movie, we think it’s safe to say that we would all be willing to form a long but orderly queue to check it out!   Image Credit: "HBO’s ”Game Of Thrones” Season 3 Seattle" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by spratt504 [...]



Two Supporting Cast Let Go From Hawaii 5-O

Tue, 04 Jul 2017 04:24:59 +0000

Hawaii 5-O supporting cast members Grace Park and Daniel Dae Kim have been let go from the long-running CBS police procedural series. The two had been holding out for a bump in their salaries equivalent to fellow cast members Scott Caan and Alex O'Loughlin. The network didn't want to move any higher, which trade magazine Variety reports would have been a difference of 10-15% more.

What's causing many entertainment watchers to raise their eyebrows is that both Dae Kim and Park are Hawaii 5-O's top-billed Asian-American actors. The loss of both actors to what should be a visably rich Hawaiian cast is raising the question of whether CBS is guilty of valuing non-white cast members at a discount while the white Hawaii 5-O players like O'Laughlin and Caan get more money.

CBS made a point of graciously acknowledging and thanking Grace Park and Daniel Dae Kim for their time portaying cast members Chin Ho Kelly and Kono Kalakaua in 168 episodes and seven seasons.

"They will always be ohana to us, we will miss them and we wish them both all the best," said Hawaii 5-O executive producer Peter Lenkov.

The departure of both characters will be addressed in Hawaii 5-O's eighth season premier this fall in as yet undisclosed manner.




5 Hints That Could Tell Us Where Star Trek Discovery is Headed

Sun, 24 Jul 2016 19:40:15 +0000

At Comic Con yesterday the first look at Star Trek Discovery, Bryan Fuller's new Trek TV show debuting in January 2017, made its appearance. If you haven't seen it yet, here's the footage showing a brief look at the new starship, the USS Discovery, emerging from a tunneled-out base inside an asteroid:   width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/MHUOty8-Ty0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="">   As should be suspected, right after the footage hit the internet, opinions started flying. Does it look too different from what we've seen of past Star Trek ships? Why is it a gold/bronze color instead of steel grey? If the registration of the Discovery ship is earlier (NCC-1031) than the Federation's most well-known starship (the Enterprise, NCC-1701), does that mean the Star Trek Discovery TV show will be a prequel to the original Star Trek series? And as typical, hard answers weren't available. It's a first look, a teaser. And it falls upon fandom to begin speculating and guessing how the Discovery TV show will fit into the bigger Star Trek TV and movie universe. But be that as it may, there could be some hints hidden in the visuals and audio of the Discovery teaser. Let's play around with five possibilities that could be hidden in plain sight in it:   The USS Discovery is a Klingon/Federation hybrid. Watch the teaser and you could get the feeling that the hard angle design of the ship is on purpose. I've seen people in the comments section say that the design of the USS Discovery makes it look like a Klingon Bird of Prey had sex with a Federation ship. And that may be closer to the truth than we realize. What if the Discovery is some sort of hybrid Klingon/Federation startship, perhaps using Klingon cloaking technology? The red nacelles glow is striking similar to the nacelles used by Klingons in their fleets. If that is the case, how did Klingon tech get put into a Federation starship? Is it sanctioned by the Klingon Empire, or a secret project of Starfleet's? And would that latter question explain why the NCC-1031 is launching from a tunneled-out construction yard inside an asteroid, safe from prying eyes? And listen to the music when the ship launches -- to some, there's a distinct hint of Klingon musical cues to it. Another hint of the hybrid nature of the Discovery?     2. It's made by Section 31, the Federation's version of the CIA. Section 31 was introduced in Deep Space Nine as a secret body that exists inside the Federation. Their task is to protect the continuation of the Federation by any means necessary. That put the actions of Section 31 in conflict with the do-good-or-do-nothing morality of Federation heroes, but it made for some interesting episodes to watch. Does the registration number NCC-1031 hint at the involvement of Section 31? Maybe -- but then why would Section 31 be behind a starship called the Discovery, when that's an undertaking that's pretty much well handled by regular Starfleet ships?     3. It's a ship out of time. Time travel isn't new territory for Star Trek, and neither is the idea of a starship thrown into the past or future of its timeline. What if the Discovery came from the era pre-TOS, but it's emerged post The Undiscovered Country? Having the crew from an era just slightly before Jim Kirk's time but having to function in a future Starfleet and Federation bureaucracy might make for good political commentary on our own troubled times. It seems odd that nothing was explained about why the starship's registry is pre-Enterprise of the original Star Trek series, but nothing solid was stated as to why the number is earlier than Enterprise's 1701. Fuller has gone on record to clear up one portion of the time setting rumors, but his answer now seems to be particularly enigmatic after seeing the Star Trek Discovery footage. "I’ve read that we’re [set] before 'Next Generation,' after ['Star Trek VI: The] Undiscovered Country,' which is false," said the show[...]



4 Marvel TV shows coming to Netflix

Thu, 07 Nov 2013 20:57:13 +0000

We knew that Marvel had been shopping around a mega-sized TV package to prospective networks but until today the details weren't known. Well, the deal has been struck and it'll be on Netflix where we'll see the next wave of Marvel TV shows. And based on the news that the House of Ideas issued today about their deal, the plan is to build a Television Marvel Universe to serve as a companion to the Cinematic Marvel Universe we've already got. The four superheroes making their way to television on demand will be Daredevil, Jessica Jones (a.k.a. the original Spider-Woman, now a freelance sleuth for hire), Luke Cage (baby father to Ms. Jones) and Iron Fist. Netflix has agreed to finance and broadcast 13 episodes of each series, with events in all four leading up to a mini-series crossover also to be broadcast on Netflix, The Defenders. In essense, we're getting the street level Marvel superhero universe as well as the equivalent Avengers-like union. No creative teams have been announced for the shows but Disney/Marvel and Netflix want to broadcast the first series in 2015. Likely these new Marvel shows will follow the modus operandi of Netflix today where the "channel" releases all episodes of the show/season at once. House of Cards, the new Arrested Development and Orange is the New Black have followed this example and have been well received by viewers. Here comes the press release quote boilerplate: "This deal is unparalleled in its scope and size, and reinforces our commitment to deliver Marvel's brand, content and characters across all platforms of storytelling. Netflix offers an incredible platform for the kind of rich storytelling that is Marvel’s specialty," said Alan Fine, President of Marvel Entertainment. "This serialized epic expands the narrative possibilities of on-demand television and gives fans the flexibility to immerse themselves how and when they want in what's sure to be a thrilling and engaging adventure." "Marvel’s movies, such as Iron Man and Marvel’s The Avengers, are huge favorites on our service around the world. Like Disney, Marvel is a known and loved brand that travels," said Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos. "With House of Cards and our other original series, we have pioneered new approaches to storytelling and to global distribution and we're thrilled to be working with Disney and Marvel to take our brand of television to new levels with a creative project of this magnitude." Now comes my speculation and auguring: Marvel will need to annoit its own TV version of Joss Whedon. The Avengers director is now shepherding all aspects of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (as well as ABC's Agents of Shield, to marginal results). Figuring out how Daredevil's world interacts with Jessica Jones', and Luke Cage and Iron Fist, will be as important as figuring out which villains they have to face. All four Marvel heroes may work and live in the New York urban center but their worlds are subtly different from each other. For example, Daredevil knows and gets along with the other three characters, but Cage and Fist are supposed to be heroes for hire, and Jones is more of a private investigator these days. Bringing out the magic is key to making lighting strike twice for Marvel and their new partner. Imagine if they can pull things off and we get four Marvel TV shows that are unconstrained by the policies of network television -- and their stories are written in a sophisticated, rich manner. These four shows could revolutionize what Marvel entertainment can be the same way the first Blade movie shook up the status quo. What do you think? Can Marvel and Netflix make it happen? [...]



Peter Capaldi is the Twelfth Doctor Who

Sun, 04 Aug 2013 18:49:47 +0000

Moments ago the BBC revealed the identity of the twelfth incarnation of Doctor Who: 55-year-old Peter Capaldi, a man who's had a solid run of supporting and guest roles on many British shows. The hiring of Capaldi is a bit of a shocker to the new Who series, as it breaks away from the trend of casting younger actors as The Doctor.

For example, outgoing Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith was cast as the character when he was then 26 years of age. Before Smith, David Tennant got the role at the age of 34.

Can we read something into the decision of hiring a more mature Doctor? Perhaps. Since Russell T. Davies rejuvinated Doctor Who for a 21st century audience, the show's format has been to have a female companion that serves as a bit of a romantic interest for The Doctor. Naturally, since this is T.V., the companions have generally been younger, attractive women. But with Capaldi's Doctor now entering the Tardis, it would seem odd to pair up an older Doctor with a younger companion, at least in any sort of romantic way.

There's also been speculation that current Doctor Who showrunner and head writer Steven Moffat has been instructed to uncomplicate the plotlines for the show. Perhaps that may mean not having multiple season long story arcs, or perhaps it may mean returning to the ways of the old school Doctor Who series from the 1960s-1980s, which featured more of a fatherly Doctor jaunting around the universe.

Production on the next season (the eighth) of Doctor Who is scheduled to commence in October. Peter Capaldi will have his first on-screen appearance as The Doctor when Matt Smith's Doctor rejuvinates in the upcoming Christmas/50th anniversary episode, scheduled for broadcast come November.




Game of Thrones review: Season 3, Episode 10

Mon, 01 Jul 2013 17:07:52 +0000

Based largely off of the first half of George R.R. Martin’s behemoth of a book, A Storm of Swords (which is longer than the entirety of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy!), the third season of HBO’s Game of Thrones brings all of the plot lines, character beats, and thematic developments from the first two years to a climatic head. And as the show’s lingering questions are answered and bombshell revelations are dropped, this column (It Is Known: An Analysis of Thrones) will help wade viewers and book-lovers both through the narrative overload that will be at hand.  What it won’t do, however, is spoil the story; the hope and intent is elucidation, not ruination. Given the death, destruction, and – gasp – hope that await in the next episode, such illumination will be needed. It is known.     Episode 310: “Mhysa” The phenomenon of the cliffhanger season finale, for all intents and purposes, started in 1980, when Dallas’s third season ended with the now-legendary scene that launched an entire summer’s obsession and that even managed to go global in an era well before the advent of the world wide web:  “Who shot JR?”  It was further cemented ten years later by Star Trek: The Next Generation’s third season finale (ironically enough), “The Best of Both Worlds,” which saw an unstoppable enemy destroy an entire fleet, assimilate Captain Picard, and even threaten Earth itself.  Television would never be the same again. Neither, it turns out, would television audiences, who would start to not only expect, but outright demand, the high-stakes, end-of-the-world adrenaline rushes that season enders had become.  It’s easy to see why viewers would get hooked on the rip-roaring rollercoaster rides every year, but it’s created something of a side-effect that now, over 30 years later, is starting to become more than apparent:  has this development become a dependency?  Or, put more cogently, is the cliffhanger closer merely a convention or actually a narrative necessity? Showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss seem to think it’s certainly the latter.  “Mhysa’s” concluding shots of Daenerys Targaryen being triumphantly lifted and adored by her throngs of freed slaves is, perhaps, heavy with emotion – or, at the very least, substance – but it’s definitely short on dangling plot threads or climatic revelations.  (It may very well be that the writer-producers felt that all their other storylines, such as a wounded Jon Snow finally being reunited with his brothers or Bran Stark getting access to the wild North or the Ironborn setting sail to rescue their erstwhile prince, were sufficiently suspenseful to end on a more [comparatively] sedate sequence.)  Given the previous season finales, which included Dany’s dragons being born and White Walkers attacking the Night’s Watch, it was a risky move on their part – especially when considering that nearly every other television series in production for the past few decades has opted to go the cliffhanger route. There’s no denying that the episode is a strong installment, even when taking its final moments into consideration.  And much of this strength comes from the sheer level of damage that nearly each and every one of the central characters has incurred thus far, particularly Dany; she spent almost the entirety of the last season alone being victimized, whether it was being stripped of her khalasar and being forced out into the Red Waste, being barred entry into Qarth, or becoming the target of a ploy perpetrated by her host and protector, Xaro Xhoan Daxos.  Though she did start off season three on much the same foot, with the Qartheen warlocks attempting to assassinate her on the docks of As[...]



Game of Thrones review: Season 3 Episode 9

Wed, 19 Jun 2013 04:12:32 +0000

Based largely off of the first half of George R.R. Martin’s behemoth of a book, A Storm of Swords (which is longer than the entirety of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy!), the third season of HBO’s Game of Thrones brings all of the plot lines, character beats, and thematic developments from the first two years to a climatic head. And as the show’s lingering questions are answered and bombshell revelations are dropped, this column (It Is Known: An Analysis of Thrones) will help wade viewers and book-lovers both through the narrative overload that will be at hand.  What it won’t do, however, is spoil the story; the hope and intent is elucidation, not ruination. Given the death, destruction, and – gasp – hope that await in the next two episodes, such illumination will be needed. It is known.   Episode 309: “The Rains of Castamere” It’s easy to discuss a whole cornucopia of filmmaking processes as they relate to Game of Thrones, ranging from the blocking of scenes to the production design to the background action.  There is one specific, far more intangible element, however, that tends to slide right past one as he’s caught up in the drama of the episodes:  history. There are a number of items that make the HBO series historical already, whether they be the amount of location shooting or the size of the cast (both main and recurring) or the level of the ratings (for a cable series).  But the Red Wedding knocks all this aside, just as it upends a number of television conventions to pull the rug out from under large swaths of its (non-book-reading) audience.  This one sequence will more than likely go down as the defining moment of the series, for better or worse, and will be felt by both creators and audiences for an incredibly long time to come. It all starts with the sheer amount of violence and gore that is displayed on-screen.  Many (mainstream) critics have routinely compared the spectacle to that of a Quentin Tarantino film, commenting on its over-the-top spilling of blood, even though its depiction is nowhere near the usually-cartoony, always-gleeful sequences Tarantino slaps together in-between masturbatory fits of heavy-handed monologues (never mind the narrative, character, and thematic resonances the Red Wedding manages to conjure, which is a far cry from the emotionally vapid displays Quentin tends to spin).  And, indeed, it may be an unbelievably long time before the sheer amount of deaths, let alone the gallons of blood, are matched, let alone bested, by another TV production. But that’s not what makes the sequence anywhere near as effective and emotionally devastating as it is – all that is left up to the slight-of-hand the writer-producers pulled by stringing both King Robb Stark and the audience along for the better part of the past two years, playing up his presence in the story and his future as a character in a way that can only be called heart-wrenching (and, possibly, manipulative) in hindsight.  And it’s not, of course, just Robb that shuffles off of this mortal coil well before his time; that his queen, Talisa, and his mother, the Lady Catelyn, go with him makes it all the worse on an exponential level.  Add in the fact that this is the second time the series has pulled this particular trick on viewers, after Lord Eddard Stark’s murder at the bottom of season one, and the effect is made all the more impressive. Given the literal and the figurative trauma this episode has engendered, it is most likely that television – and, more specifically, protagonists – will never again be the same. For better or worse.     The Differences between the Episode and the Novel: The scene where the wildlings and Jon Snow attack the old man who breeds horses for the Nigh[...]



Game of Thrones: Season 3, Episode 10 Deconstructed

Wed, 19 Jun 2013 03:42:15 +0000

Welcome to “It Is Known – Season 3 Deconstructed”! Every week, you will find my extensive review of the week’s episode of Game of Thrones.  I will explore the narrative that the show weaves. And what a narrative indeed! The story is complex, the characters are manifold, the twists and turns unexpected. I will deconstruct the episodes piece by piece, moving from character to character. This is an unusual approach, I admit, and a bit cumbersome at times, but the show basically does the same. The episodes are just parts of one, epic story, and as parts we have to examine them if we hope to get everything that happens.   This Week's Episode: "Mhysa" Can you believe this is the last Game of Thrones we will see for ten months? Man, that hurts. The only thing to do about it is, I guess, rewatch all seasons in a row or something. We also end this series of reviews with this issue, of course, and I hope you enjoyed them and took away something from them. For me, the most surprising – and also a little bit disturbing – thing in the writing process was that although I initially planned to keep it light on the book references, I really didn’t. I wasn’t able to stop comparing the two, but I consider it an achievement not to take the books as inviolable gospel. That being said, let’s delve back into the storylines.  Sam and Gilly finally reach the area south of the Wall. We meet them climbing out a well in the ruined Nightfort, giving Bran and his group the creeps. Sam’s boast that he knows of a secret way proved to be right, and he proves again that he is clever when he immediately deducts whom he has in front of himself. The dialogue with Bran’s group was cleverly written, reminding us of the danger that the White Walkers present, establishing the knowledge of obsidian weaponry (with a cool equipment scene for the group) and having a callback to it later when Sam talks with Maester Aemon. The scene with Aemon was played for laughs at first, with the problem of Aemon not being able to see and suspecting Sam of fathering a child, but it takes a sudden turn into the pathos territory when Sam proves himself an able politician and delivers a speech about the necessity of fighting the White Walkers and Aemon commands him to write the letters. The only thing the scene was missing was a long establishing shot of signal fires being lit all over the ridge of the mountains between Gondor and Rohan. That was certainly the effect they wanted to evoke, and the music did the job well enough. I have the feeling that it just went a bit too smooth in this scene, with Maester Aemon jumping the bandwagon and Stannis later responding, but the show presumably simply doesn’t have the time to show how the message is ignored by pretty much everyone else and even lies around in Dragonstone for some time, so they had to settle for the pathos effect. It works, obviously, no two ways around it, but it takes the surprise of Stannis’ later intervention. Well, I’m curious to see how that’ll play out.  With that, let’s go to Bran and his group. They reach the ruined Nightfort without exactly knowing how to find a way through the Wall, but Sam’s arrival rescues them from that, of course. Before Sam and Gilly come calling and offer them a spot in Castle Black’s orphan fund program, Bran gives us the much needed exposition about the holy status of guest right, and  boy, was that cut to Walder Frey efficient. The story of the Rat Cook gave me the creeps, although I knew it beforehand. Really, these scenes where they dwell into the lore of Westeros may be slow going at times, but I really relish them, and I hope many people will too on their second run with the series (don’t tell me you don’t plan watching it again). What di[...]



Game of Thrones: Season 3, Episode 9 Deconstructed

Mon, 10 Jun 2013 05:50:59 +0000

Welcome to “It Is Known – Season 3 Deconstructed”! Every week, you will find my extensive review of the week’s episode of Game of Thrones.  I will explore the narrative that the show weaves. And what a narrative indeed! The story is complex, the characters are manifold, the twists and turns unexpected. I will deconstruct the episodes piece by piece, moving from character to character. This is an unusual approach, I admit, and a bit cumbersome at times, but the show basically does the same. The episodes are just parts of one, epic story, and as parts we have to examine them if we hope to get everything that happens.    This Week's Episode: "The Rains of Castamere" Catharsis. I know the term doesn’t fit exactly here, since you don’t feel purified, more soiled. But boy, the Red Wedding was a cloud that hung over the whole season for book readers like me. We always knew it was coming, always knew what it meant, and had to try not to spoil it for those who haven’t read the books. It was way harder than to pretend Eddard Stark wouldn’t die back in season 1. Now that it’s finally over, it’s like a veil has been pulled back. It was an emotional ride that I hadn’t expected, again, knowing exactly what would happen. That speaks for the quality of HBO’s adaption. But let’s cover all this in excruciating detail, shall we? Man, I’m still shaking.  We only get a small glimpse from north of the Wall this episode, in form of Sam and Gilly finally reaching the Wall. I liked the shot between the trees, and Gilly’s awe at looking upon it. Her naïve line about how Craster told them that you die upon looking on the Wall made me smile, but sadly. Oh girl, you’re not safe yet. You should know by now in what kind of story you are. It’s also pretty efficient how they seem to introduce the Night Gate: instead of all that Mumbo-Jumbo-Coldhands-business from the books, Sam just read in an old book, which seems to become a meme of its own. Fandom will inevitably asks whether or not we’ll see Coldhands. I’d say yes, but Sam won’t necessarily meet him, too. Anyway, I’m looking forward to the passage under the Wall. Should get us a haunting picture.  South of the Wall, Bran and Rickon arrive at the mill we already saw and which I mistook for Queenscrown. Well, it is Queenscrown, which has just transformed from a tower into a mill and isn’t situated in the middle of a lake anymore, which really doesn’t make any difference. The show merged the two storylines (Jon’s and Bran’s) very cleverly, with both groups coming so close to each other but making no contact. I’ll talk about them separately since the contact is only superfluous anyway. First, let’s talk about warging. In the books, we had much more time with Bran up to this point, so he could already warg (and talk lots and lots with Jojen), so using the threat of the discovery and Jon’s impeding death is a pretty nice way to speed things up in a dramatic manner. I also really like the blind-eye-effect that they use for warging, it looks awesome. I wonder whether it will have any implications for later that Bran admitted to being able of warging into Hodor, but I wouldn’t really think so.  The second really good part about Bran’s storyline this episode is, of course, the breakup of the group. Having seen his powers, Bran goes full believer on Jojen and buys into venturing north of the Wall to find the three-eyed-raven. Obviously, this trip is serious business for a crippled ten-year-old, so taking a six-year-old on the ride is out of the question, and the group finally splits up. Osha is set to Last Hearth. In wonder whether we’ll see them in season 4. Osha has [...]



Game of Thrones review: Season 3, Episode 8

Mon, 10 Jun 2013 05:27:59 +0000

Based largely off of the first half of George R.R. Martin’s behemoth of a book, A Storm of Swords (which is longer than the entirety of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy!), the third season of HBO’s Game of Thrones brings all of the plot lines, character beats, and thematic developments from the first two years to a climatic head. And as the show’s lingering questions are answered and bombshell revelations are dropped, this column (It Is Known: An Analysis of Thrones) will help wade viewers and book-lovers both through the narrative overload that will be at hand.  What it won’t do, however, is spoil the story; the hope and intent is elucidation, not ruination. Given the death, destruction, and – gasp – hope that await in the next three episodes, such illumination will be needed. It is known.   Episode 308: “Second Sons” The commentary track for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon may have more than its fair share of flaws – most of them owing to screenwriter James Schamus behaving in a way that can only be labeled as a schmuck – but it tends to stick out in a film lover’s memory for an entirely different reason:  an exchange between the writer and director Ang Lee (about two extras having a somewhat silly and certainly inconclusive fight) that calls attention to a facet of filmmaking that tends to usually be glossed over in behind-the-scenes material – background action. The behavior and general conduct of all the extras, speaking or not, of any given scene can do more to establish realism or tear down believability than nearly any other single element, a star’s performance included.  Instructing day players on how – or, perhaps more importantly, how not – to carry themselves and giving them bits of business to perform require a huge amount of coordination and dedication of the entire production team, starting with the assistant director(s) and moving on up the chain of command to the highest suits.  For this reason alone, creating quality background action can be a nearly insurmountable task. (For more on this, and in keeping with the commentary vibe, check out the track laid down by Ronald D. Moore, David Eick, and director Michael Rymer for the Battlestar Galactica pilot miniseries, in which the performance of the extra who plays the co-pilot of Colonial One is addressed with much gusto and insight.  It is guaranteed to make one look at movies or television in an entirely different way forever more.) Game of Thrones is a production that has tended to hit the background nail on the head more often than not, and to typically do so in a creatively satisfying way; whether the slaves of Astapor or the smallfolk of Winterfell, there is a level of believability achieved that would otherwise be impossible to attain (yes, even with the usually exquisite set dressing taken into consideration).  The makeshift camp of the sellsword company the Second Sons outside the city walls of Yunkai is arguably the strongest example yet, with servants hustling and bustling and horseback mercenaries riding hurriedly to and fro in a continuous – and graceful – fashion.  It sells the realism of a hastily-thrown-together settlement on the verge of war, underscores the dialogue-heavy emphasis of the scene with some kinetic energy, and furthers the viewer’s immersion in a faraway land that never existed without the slightest of hiccups. Well, almost; if there is one critique to make, it would be that the production team was a little too worried about crisscrossing its horseback traffic throughout the entirety of the scene.  Once noticed, the viewer is left with the unmistakable impression that he is w[...]



Matt Smith departing Doctor Who

Sat, 01 Jun 2013 23:42:10 +0000

The Eleventh Doctor will bring his run as Doctor Who to a finale this December. Today the BBC announced that Matt Smith, the actor presently playing the near-immortal Time Lord in the show, will be departing the series after the airing of the 2013 Christmas Special.

"Doctor Who has been the most brilliant experience for me as an actor and a bloke, and that largely is down to the cast, crew and fans of the show," said Smith in an official release originating from the BBC. "I'm incredibly grateful to all the cast and crew who work tirelessly every day, to realise all the elements of the show and deliver Doctor Who to the audience."

Smith has played The Doctor since 2009 and through three seasons of the series. He will star alongside the Tenth Doctor, David Tennant, in a special 50th Anniversary Special scheduled to air this November, and then hand off the role to a new Doctor at the conclusion of the Christmas Special.

"It's been an honour to play this part, to follow the legacy of brilliant actors, and helm the TARDIS for a spell with 'the ginger, the nose and the impossible one'. But when ya gotta go, ya gotta go and Trenzalore calls. Thank you guys," Smith ended his message with.

Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat will remain on the series, guiding the development of the next Doctor, whomever that person will be. "Of course, this isn't the end of the story, because now the search begins," said Moffat. "Somewhere out there right now - all unknowing, just going about their business - is someone who's about to become the Doctor. A life is going to change, and Doctor Who will be born all over again!"

Actors come and go playing The Doctor, and Smith's four-year run isn't so unusual. David Tennant played the character through five seasons, and the man immediately before him, Christopher Eccelston, only wore the black leather coat of The Doctor for one season.

With Smith's departure now a confirmed event, the fanbase of Doctor Who will start speculating on who they would like to see play The Doctor in his next regeneration on the show. Could the twelfth on-screen incarnation of The Doctor break away from tradition and see an actor of different skin color play the Gallifreyan Time Lord? Or what about a female Doctor inhabiting the role for a spell?




Game of Thrones review: Season 3 Episode 7

Sat, 01 Jun 2013 23:09:43 +0000

Based largely off of the first half of George R.R. Martin’s behemoth of a book, A Storm of Swords (which is longer than the entirety of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy!), the third season of HBO’s Game of Thrones brings all of the plot lines, character beats, and thematic developments from the first two years to a climatic head. And as the show’s lingering questions are answered and bombshell revelations are dropped, this column (It Is Known: An Analysis of Thrones) will help wade viewers and book-lovers both through the narrative overload that will be at hand.  What it won’t do, however, is spoil the story; the hope and intent is elucidation, not ruination. Given the death, destruction, and – gasp – hope that await in the next four episodes, such illumination will be needed. It is known.     Episode 307: “The Bear and the Maiden Fair” More than any other episode thus far, it seems, “The Bear and the Maiden Fair” is dependent upon and devoted to the various relationships that have flowered amongst the show’s giant cast of characters:  Tyrion and Bronn, Sansa and Margaery, Tywin and Joffrey, Jon and Ygritte, Tyrion and Shae. It’s a powerful reminder that not only do television shows live and die based on the rapport, both on the page and on the screen, of their characters, but also that different series often have wildly divergent approaches to these (inter) relationships.  Star Trek: The Next Generation is a series that is prominently – and fondly – remembered for the incredibly strong bonds that developed between the seven regular cast members (well, nine, if one wants to be technical, even though the additional two were only in the first half [or so] of the run); stories here, as such, often revolved around the crew of the USS Enterprise on a gestalt level, depicting them as a family dealing with familial-esque difficulties or breaches from the outside world. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, on the other hand, is a series that was overwhelmingly devoted to the specific ties between specific characters (which is a result, more than likely, of the writing staff instead of the cast having a strong sense of camaraderie).  The friendship of Miles O’Brien and Julian Bashir, the rivalry between Odo and Quark, and the actual familial ties of Captain Sisko, his son, and his father all unite to make an overarching tapestry of strong individual threads; it is individuals as opposed to community that drives this story forward, making it the polar opposite of Next Gen (and the vast swath of television up until this point, as well). Where does Game of Thrones fall on this continuum?  Due simply to the dispersed nature of its cast of characters and the highly serialized telling of their individual story threads, it decisively lands in DS9 territory (itself the most serialized of all the Trek productions).  Despite its emphasis on house loyalty and politicking, Thrones is less about, say, House Stark as a whole and more dedicated to Arya as an individual piecing together a new family – consisting of Gendry and Hot Pie – to help assure her survival in a cruel and wanton world.  And even House Lannister, which has been far less geographically challenged than the Starks, revolves largely around characters that are splintered in their devotions:  Tyrion is more dedicated to either Bronn or Shae than to his sister or his father, while Lord Tywin seems more interested in confiding with Arya than any of his own progeny.   Indeed, if there is any type of giant, sweeping narrative force that binds all of the characters and narr[...]



Game of Thrones: Season 3, Episode 8 Deconstructed

Wed, 29 May 2013 07:32:59 +0000

Welcome to “It Is Known – Season 3 Deconstructed”! Every week, you will find my extensive review of the week’s episode of Game of Thrones.  I will explore the narrative that the show weaves. And what a narrative indeed! The story is complex, the characters are manifold, the twists and turns unexpected. I will deconstruct the episodes piece by piece, moving from character to character. This is an unusual approach, I admit, and a bit cumbersome at times, but the show basically does the same. The episodes are just parts of one, epic story, and as parts we have to examine them if we hope to get everything that happens.  There will be no real spoilers for future events, but I will reference the books from time to time, so if you haven’t read them, you might want to be careful around these reviews, although I’ll try to keep the references cryptic.   This Week's Episode: "Second Sons" HBO seems to have decided that it was long overdue to give the women something to look at as well, and so, open the curtains for a naked Joe Dempsie (I guess Maisie Williams shat her pants) and the new Daario, nothing like the old Daario and therefore loveable for us eurocentric bastards. But let’s go with this as usual, piece by piece. We will have to break up the locations a littlebit more since the episode was concentrated almost exclusively on three locations, a format that definitely benefits the pacing but can’t always be done.  After a hiatus, we get back at Sam, who found a little hut besides a weirdwood (the village of Whitetree?). The imagery is beautiful again, with the creepy tree and the abandoned hut being the only thing visible in the surrounding darkness. When Sam and Gilly enter the hut, anxiously looking around, you just feel their underlying fear. Very well done. There’s a little exchange about names (Gilly still doesn’t come out with the “don’t name children until they’re two because it’s bad luck” wildling tradition; I wonder whether it was cut), and Gilly and Sam agree that they both don’t want to name the child after their fathers. Gilly’s complains about Sam’s “fancy speech” are a nice backdrop too, highlighting the fact that he is noble born and she just a wilding’s bastard. She comes around as a bit daft in the scenes, but there you go.  Any further discussion and awkward flirting are cut off when suddenly ravens start quorking. We had one raven watch them enter the hut before (I first thought it was the Old Bear’s, but then I realized he didn’t have one in the show), but now the whole tree is filled with them, creating a beautiful, haunting imagery. Sam knows instantly something’s amiss, and cold winds blow in his face. He draws his sword as our favorite Other emerges from the trees like it’s an episode of The Walking Dead, shatters Sam’s sword to pieces and makes for Gilly, who confusingly cries out that he “comes for the baby”, which the Other immediately validates. Sam remembers his obsidian dagger, and lo and behold, it shatters the Other in turn in a nice effect shot. I’m still not sure about the design of the Others, as they seem pretty zombie-esque, but I prefer the show to the ice elves Martin envisioned that are depicted in the graphic novel (which I seriously don’t recommend reading). Sam and Gilly close the episode fleeing before a swarm of quorking ravens, of course leaving the dagger behind. I love you, Sam.   Barring any other scenes from the North (and sparing us for two weeks from the gelded Theon, not an experience I’m particularly fond of having all too soon),[...]



Game of Thrones review: Season 3, Episode 6

Sat, 18 May 2013 22:52:26 +0000

Based largely off of the first half of George R.R. Martin’s behemoth of a book, A Storm of Swords (which is longer than the entirety of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy!), the third season of HBO’s Game of Thrones brings all of the plot lines, character beats, and thematic developments from the first two years to a climatic head. And as the show’s lingering questions are answered and bombshell revelations are dropped, this column (It Is Known: An Analysis of Thrones) will help wade viewers and book-lovers both through the narrative overload that will be at hand.  What it won’t do, however, is spoil the story; the hope and intent is elucidation, not ruination. Given the death, destruction, and – gasp – hope that await in the next five episodes, such illumination will be needed. It is known.   Episode 306: “The Climb” The execution of the Wall-climbing sequence was a daunting prospect for the (in-the-know) audience, let alone for the cast and crew, given just how difficult it would be to realize the action in a grounded, believable fashion – one of Game of Thrones’s greater strengths, but also one of its biggest weaknesses, as its high standard acts as an ever-more-difficult-to-cross threshold for each subsequent sequence of each subsequent episode.  When certain elements fail to pass this test, it can provide a distracting – if not ruinous – experience, which is precisely why the Stark brood’s famous direwolves are rarely, if ever, seen (as compared to the novels or even the comic book adaptation, which features them in nearly every scene). The climb, fortunately for all involved, passed with flying colors.  By opting to actually construct the Wall as a physical set instead of relying exclusively on visual effects, the cast and crew created a visceral sequence that easily serves as a hallmark of production design, placing it right alongside the Battle of Blackwater Bay (“Blackwater,” episode 209) and earning Game of Thrones a top spot in the annals of television history.  And lest the decision to build a 50-foot wall and to use real ropes to actually hoist the actors up in real space seems a no-brainer in hindsight, the sheer expense – and extra shooting time – of the sequence would have been more than enough to scare off nearly every other series. (Which is not to say that the climb is utterly flawless:  the shots that do feature virtual extensions of the impeccable set, particularly those looking down upon the actors as they laboriously work their way up, stick out like a sore thumb.  But even here, there is a golden lining, as the action set-piece of the crack and subsequent fall of several of the climbers is nothing short of stunning, special and visual effects included.) The best part of the entire sequence, however, has little to do with its contents and more with how it transcends to mesh with the larger episode.  Although it starts as a “simple” action scene, played to the hilt with cutting ropes and cracked ice and death-defying swings, it ends by becoming a framing device for the entire installment.  “The climb is all there is,” Lord Petyr Baelish intones.  The character means to use it to handicap – both figuratively as well as literally – all those currently playing the game of thrones, but the writers use it as a means of adding a resonant depth that would otherwise be entirely absent. It will be most intriguing to see how this metaphor is extended in coming seasons.     The Differences between the E[...]



Game of Thrones: Season 3, Episode 7 Deconstructed

Sat, 18 May 2013 22:29:42 +0000

Welcome to “It Is Known – Season 3 Deconstructed”! Every week, you will find my extensive review of the week’s episode of Game of Thrones.  I will explore the narrative that the show weaves. And what a narrative indeed! The story is complex, the characters are manifold, the twists and turns unexpected. I will deconstruct the episodes piece by piece, moving from character to character. This is an unusual approach, I admit, and a bit cumbersome at times, but the show basically does the same. The episodes are just parts of one, epic story, and as parts we have to examine them if we hope to get everything that happens.  There will be no real spoilers for future events, but I will reference the books from time to time, so if you haven’t read them, you might want to be careful around these reviews, although I’ll try to keep the references cryptic.    This Week's Episode: "The Bair and the Maiden Fair" After the proverbial climb last week, the current episode provides us with a bit more of character moments, going over lengths with some relationships and strengthening others that didn’t get the attention they deserved until now. It’s a good move to slow it down a bit, since episode 9 and 10 will get the stakes real high again soon enough. It’s fascinating to see just how close the show still is to the books without being literal about it. That’s one of the things I really like about it. They know what to change and what not to.  We don’t have a scene north of the Wall this week, as Sam and Grenn aren’t featured in this episode. Instead, we immediately get back to Jon’s little raiding party, where Tormund teaches Jon about the right sex technique. I guess Jon’s curiosity is well placed, because Tormund looks like a guy I would take sex advice from. Not. There’s also a lot of banter between Jon and Ygritte that is really well acted on both parts and suddenly transforms into earnest when Ygritte implicitly agrees how likely it is they’ll all die. “But first, we live.” The theme was repeated in the episode, just to stick it tightly with the audience.  Besides, did you also notice that the Jon scenes stopped to suck? I think it has to do with the Wall. In season 1, the stuff about Jon and Night’s Watch was good, and they were south of the Wall. In season 2 and the first half of season 3, it sucked, and they were north of the Wall. The instant they went south again, the scenes got better. I’m sure there’s a pattern in there. Must be. But seriously, the stuff with Jon and the wildling band took some serious screen time this episode and paid us back for it. We learned a bit more about their culture and about how they are around each other, which will all be important later on, especially regarding Jon’s character development as a guy who understands both worlds.  Bran, Osha, Hodor and the Reeds also got a little bit more to do this time. It’s odd how they keep Hodor and Rickon out of sight most of the time, isn’t it? Hodor’s looks were great, by the way. Anyway, Osha clearly isn’t keen about Jojen telling Bran stuff about magic and lunges into an exposition monologue about her husband who died and came back as a wight. Not necessary from a viewer’s standpoint in terms of information value, but it’s good that Bran finally learns about what happens north of the Wall and to have a little more personal motivations for Osha. The following argument about where to go reminded me that in contrast to the books, the official plan for them is still Castle Black [...]