Fantasy

IronThrone

Bad news for those who hate dragons, sex, dragon sex and/or dismemberment. It doesn’t look like Game of Thrones is going to be leaving HBO anytime soon, as a new ratings report indicates that the divisive fantasy series has officially become the most popular show in its history, beating The Sopranos, Sex and the City and everything else the critically acclaimed network has put into production. (more…)

GOTS4E8

A trial by combat.

While the title of this is week’s Episode tells you all you need to know in terms of what to expect narratively-speaking, to focus only on the brutal one-on-one battle that occurs between Oberyn “The Viper” Martell and Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane would be doing the rest of Season Four’s eighth hour a grave disservice. Yes, the two duel to the death in an adequately shot and cut bit of medieval warfare (more on this in a minute), but the rest of “The Mountain and the Viper” is made up of thrilling moments of dogged birth and re-birth. Not only does Sansa Stark get to come into her own and finally use her family name to actually improve her status, but Ramsay Snow earns the moniker of his father and “Reek” is able to slip back into the skin of Theon Greyjoy, even if for a chilling moment of murderous complicity. Unfortunately, not all ends well for some of our favorites, as Episode Eight contains yet another grisly, shocking moment sure to upset even those who knew it was coming.  (more…)

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Last week, I quoted Longfellow in an effort to illustrate the fluctuations in quality Game of Thrones often presents its viewers on a week-to-week basis; a poetic re-appropriation in the purposes of critical evaluation. This week, with “Mockingbird” — the seventh episode of this tumultuous Fourth Season — David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have proven that no such juvenile attempt at literary posturing is necessary, as they have delivered as strong an installment as the series has ever seen. Brimming with a near deluge of rousing dramatic scenes, “Mockingbird” stands as a fitting cliffhanger of a transitional episode, causing (hopefully) everyone who watched to shake their fists in anger at the fact that HBO is having the season go on a brief hiatus for Memorial Day Weekend.

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Gringoots3

To be completely honest, every time I read the title to this new ride, all I hear is Tony Soprano calling his son AJ “googootz”. My brain is weird.

Universal Orlando has finally confirmed details regarding the new signature ride at the soon-to-be-opened Diagon Alley expansion of “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” (a place I will go simply to gorge myself on butter beer). The Harry Potter and the Escape from Googootz — excuse me, Gringotts — ride will feature vehicles that seat twelve folks and carry visitors “through a Harry Potter story featuring villains, dragons and goblins.” Today, Universal revealed a bunch of new details on the theme park attraction, including Harry Potter and the Escape from Googootz photos and concept art.

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TheQuest

In the quest (har har) to provide us with as much “geek friendly” entertainment as possible, a new type of series has been created for those who enjoy The Amazing Race just as much as they do D&D. Recently, the Execs. at ABC released the transcripts (which I’ve then translated into screenplay form below) of their brainstorming session regarding the new “Fantasy Reality” series The Quest. Fair warning, while the show might be “family-friendly”, the pow-wow in which it was originally conceived certainly was not.

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“When she was good,
She was very good indeed,
But when she was bad she was horrid.”

This short excerpt from Longfellow’s equally brief “There Was a Little Girl” can be re-jiggered and re-appropriated to describe a lot of different things. In the current media landscape, no work feels more deserving of the description than HBO’s Game of Thrones. Season Four has seen its fair share of highs (the death of one sniveling Boy King) while also delivering some truly dismal lows (the rape of Cersei by her otherwise redemption-bound brother, not to mention the general mistreatment/prop-relegation of many of the show’s female characters). But this season’s sixth episode, “The Laws of Gods and Men”, is a healthy reminder of why we shouldn’t just throw out the proverbial “baby with the bathwater”. Yes, some moments might be extremely “problematic” for most viewers (a word I’m learning to despise due to its overuse by seemingly joyless cultural watchdogs), yet to discount the series as a whole because of a few (admittedly major) missteps would be doing many viewers a rather large disservice. Because the final twenty minutes of “The Laws of Gods and Men” represent televised drama at its finest.

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A king is crowned. A queen questions her way. A true assassin is revealed.

While certainly not the most viscerally thrilling episode the series has ever seen, “First of His Name” was slyly stunning, filled with tiny moments that seemed to change everything. Whether it was Littlefinger whispering nefarious nothings into his bride-to-be’s ear or Arya Stark letting The Hound know that he’s still very much on her shit list, Episode Five of Season Four was all about the tense intimate moments that seem to bring characters together while still keeping them at arm’s length from both each other and the audience. We’re now halfway through what might be the most pivotal chapter in the HBO fantasy series’ history, and the proverbial pot seems to be just on the verge of boiling over.

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It had to happen eventually. After setting a near-breakneck pace for the first three episodes, Game of Thrones finally pumped the brakes and slowed it down a bit. Unfortunately, the show-runners also pulled the emergency lever, as the fourth episode came to a grinding halt, sacrificing momentum in favor of meticulously setting up the future. The good news? They tossed out the books as they went, committing a solid fifteen minutes of run-time to brand new material that was sure to throw George R.R. Martin devotees for a loop.

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Welcome back to our newly revamped “Retro Reviews” column, where we explore both the movies you know and love, as well as the oft overlooked gems you should be spending more time with. Our third entry is the crazy inspiring sci-fi superhero tale, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984)

“Excuse me…is someone out there not having a good time?”

Buckaroo Banzai (Peter Weller) stops a performance by his band, The Hong Kong Cavaliers, so that he can scan the audience. Somebody’s crying and our hero needs to know exactly how anybody could be hurting during their set. Once he locates the source — a spiky-haired pixie named Penny Priddy (Ellen Barkin) – he calms the jeering crowd and informs them that “they don’t have to be mean”. In a moment of zen wisdom, he tells his admirers that the journey in life is all that matters, utilizing a simple maxim that becomes the movie’s guiding force.

“Because no matter where you go…there you are.”

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DougLiman

There was a time when Doug Liman was an interesting filmmaker, but it seems so long ago that I can barely remember why I enjoyed his early movies. Swingers and Go belonged to the stable of ’90s indie “dramedies” that the decade became so synonymous for. Then came The Bourne Identity, which was slightly better than competent and helped launch the Matt Damon/Robert Ludlum franchise, only to be overshadowed by Paul Greengrass’ superior entires. After that, Liman seemed to run out of gas, churning out vanilla PG-13 action fare like Mr. & Mrs. Smith and Jumper, both of which I know I saw yet couldn’t describe a scene from either to you in order to save my life (there was an elevator in Mr. &. Mrs. Smith? Maybe some cake?). The rest of the aughts found Liman Executive Producing TV shows like Suits and I Just Want My Pants Back, the latter of which sounds like a serialized Nick Nolte biopic.

Now comes Railhead, an adaptation of a yet-to-be-released children’s novel for Warner Bros. which, according to The Hollywood Reporter, is set in “a futuristic world where trains run through space via portals.” I guess that sounds like a Doug Liman joint. Then again, a live-action Care Bears adaptation sounds like a Doug Liman joint at this point.

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