Game of Thrones Season 6 Episode 1 Review (7.5/10) (Spoilers alert)

 

Entertaining as usual, the season 6 premiere of Game of Thrones thrusts us right back into where we left off in season 5, with several mouth-dropping and awesome events in its last three episodes (the battle beyond The Wall with Jon Snow and the White Walkers / the fight in the arena / Jon Snow’s death)

More so this time around than in previous lessons, it felt like the season premiere struggled a tiny bit in its balance between refreshing the audience on what has been going on in the many plot lines and advancing them them with interesting events.  While the longer scenes featuring Brienne and Sansa, Jamie and Cersei, and at the Night’s Watch, the scenes with the Boltons, Arya, Jorah and Daario, felt a bit like fillers.

The highlight of the episode to me was definitely when Brienne and Podrick fought Bolton’s men, which not only saw a reunion of characters but also capped off one of Brienne’s sworn missions to fulfil Catelyn Stark’s wishes to protect her family.

Overall, a solid premiere.  Now that this episode has done its job in bringing us up to speed, the next one should be much more enjoyable.

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Movie Review: Zootopia (8.8/10)

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Brilliantly animated, incredibly fun for both adults and kids, “Zootopia” took me by surprise and currently stands as one of my favorite films of the year.

The story takes place in a world where animals have human characteristics, and interact with each other and handle themselves the way humans do.  This opens the world up for endless creativity, which the film absolutely capitalizes on.  This doesn’t necessarily have to do with the main characters or the plot, but the auxiliary things, so to speak,  the world creation.  From rabbit main character (Judy Hopps) wearing earphones that are actually placed correctly, in her bunny ears on the top of her head, to the little animals (squirrels?) having their own exit doors on the train, there is amazing detail being put into this film, from start to finish.

The plot is generic enough, almost vintage Disney, but it was so well executed that there was never a dull moment.  The color palette of the film was always vibrant.  And the comedy…  I’m not sure if I have ever heard a Hong Kong movie audience laugh this hard.  And not just the sloth scene that was in the trailer, either.

The voice talent was also very solid from top to bottom, with a cast consisting of Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, J.K. Simmons, Tommy Chong, and Jenny Slate.  And directors Byron Howard and Rich Moore definitely created something special that can spawn many sequels

I have to say though, the one shortcoming of this film is that the contexts within which some of these comedy scenes lie are quite mature-themed and rely on threats of violence. I glossed over it initially, but in retrospect, these methods ultimately placed this film below “Inside Out” in my favorite animated movies.

As the film has already grossed over $800 million worldwide, I’d imagine many people have already seen it.  I’d recommend it nonetheless.  Go see it!

Movie Review: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (6.5/10)

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Talking about disappointments.

I walked into “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” hoping to see one of the best comic book movies of all time, a cinematic masterpiece by director Zack Snyder.  What I got instead was a film that was mediocre at best, and a director who clearly was overwhelmed by the enormity of the task of setting up the DC cinematic universe.

The film clocked in at around two and a half hours, half an hour of which could easily have been cut out without diminishing the movie.  It’s almost as if they have no idea how to utilise two of the biggest comic book superheroes of all time, and that they have no comic book movies from which to draw inspiration (yes we know Warner Bros. wants to make the DC cinematic universe darker and grittier than Marvel’s but that doesn’t mean they can’t look to Marvel movies to learn how to make good comic book movies.)

This review would seem endless if I delved into spoilers and picked apart all the film’s flaws.  To summarise, the writing is sloppy and tedious.  Lots of pointless dialogue that does not further the plot.  The film even uses the same device twice to reveal things to the audience.  At certain points, scenes would seemingly build up to something exciting to amp up the audience, only to cut to something completely off tempo, leaving the audience frustrated.

Worst of all, for the most part, the film is just plain dull.  Not just the signature Snyder-saturated palette, but the tone of which the acting took place.  Speaking of the acting, there was a range of good (Ben Affleck was great as the new Batman, Gal Gadot was perfect as Wonder Woman, apparently also a woman of few words) and bad (my god that overacting from Jesse Eisenberg, did not work at all.)

Even the Snyder-isms were off.  This guy is known for using extreme slow motion to good effects (like in “300”, “Watchmen”, even “Sucker Punch”).  But here, he puts the slo-mo in all the wrong places, missing out on creating iconic cinematic moments in the process

There were moments of brilliance in the film, such as when Batman finally faced off against Superman, and the first DC Universe team fight against Doomsday.  But these were overshadowed by the salient flaws of the film.

I’d almost say it’s not worth seeing in the theatres, but there are a few redeeming points to the film.  It all depends on whether you want to spend that money and sit for two and a half hours for brief moments of coolness.