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Friday, September 22, 2017

Review: King Arthur: The Legend of the Sword

If nothing else, Guy Ritchie's take on the King Arthur mythos epitomizes the phrase: "everything but the kitchen sink." No matter how you otherwise feel about the film in its entirety, you can't say you were ever bored.
But what struck me was the realization that Guy Ritchie clearly wasn't all that interested in the Once and Future King – this would have worked so much better as a Robin Hood movie, and after reading this interview it's obvious that he harboured flat-out disdain for the quintessential character of Arthur.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Game of Thrones: Predictions

I should probably wait until the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones is about to air before posting this, but hey – I'm still hyped up on the fumes of the seventh season finale. Here are my predictions on who will live and who will die...

Friday, September 1, 2017

Woman of the Month: Ahsoka Tano

Ahsoka Tano from The Clone Wars
Ahsoka Tano is nothing short of a miracle. First appearing in the pilot movie of a television series that wasn't initially well received, introduced as a Padawan apprentice to Anakin despite having never been mentioned in any of the preceding films, and characterized as a brash teenage girl who had difficulty following orders (fandom hates a teenage girl at the best of times, making her butt heads with male authority figures was practically a death sentence), she was poised to become the most loathed Star Wars character since Jar Jar Binks.
Roger Ebert himself had this to say about her: "Ahsoka Tano, by the way, is annoying. She bats her grapefruit-sized eyes at Anakin and offers suggestions that invariably prove her right and her teacher wrong. At least when we first met Yoda, he was offering useful advice."
The deck was well and truly stacked against her, and so what happened next was astounding: she became one of the most popular characters in the entire franchise. In what is perhaps the most breath-taking case of Rescued From the Scrappy Heap since 24's Chloe O'Brian, the show's writers stuck to their guns, course-corrected the ship, and turned Ahsoka into an earnest, loyal, conflicted, brave and ultimately tragic figure.
And make no mistake: The Clone Wars is fundamentally her story. Rey might be the first female protagonist of a Star Wars film, but the distinction of first female protagonist period goes to Ahsoka. She grows from a fourteen to a seventeen year old across the course of the show, and despite its format – a series of mini-arcs that focused on a wide range of characters – its underlying structure was built upon Ahsoka's maturation.
Here is a child-soldier that was thrown into mortal danger, forced to watch people she cared about suffer and die, driven into leadership roles far beyond what would normally be expected of someone her age, and who is eventually betrayed by the very Jedi Order that raised her. Yet for all of this, she does not break; she does not relinquish her moral compass.
In this respect it's fascinating to watch the dynamic between herself and Anakin, not only for its brother/sister/student/mentor rapport, but in the way each one is indelibly shaped by the conflict tearing up the galaxy around them. Each one goes through their own personal crucible set against a backdrop of war and hate and violence, but only she emerges with her soul still intact.
The culmination of her character arc at the conclusion of the fifth season adds a particularly tragic note of irony to her story: leaving the Jedi Order may break her heart, but it also saves her life. More than that, it leaves a series of "what might have been" questions in her wake. Had she not left the Jedi Order, would Anakin have fallen to the Dark Side? Would she have been enough to keep him tethered to the Light? We'll never know, but it serves as a reminder that it's our choices more than our circumstances that define who we are. Anakin broke, but Ahsoka remained true to herself.
(Oh, and did I mention her distinctive fighting style? She has two lightsabres, each one wielded not as a sword but a dagger, the blades pointed inwards and used to shield her body. It's cool).

Reading/Watching Log #20

So I only finished five things this month. Five things. That's terrible! In my defence I've been reading/watching a lot more than this, I just didn't manage to finish any of them in August. In any case: one good book, one bad book, the conclusion of a great show, the middle of an entertaining one, and the penultimate offering of a frustrating one.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Orphan Black: To Right the Wrongs of Many

And it's over. I've been on the Orphan Black rollercoaster since day one and now that it's come to an end I'm not sure how I feel. A little bereft, oddly nonchalant and mostly satisfied? That's a weird combination, but it's where I'm at.
Truth be told, this season wasn't hugely compelling, and many of the deaths felt more perfunctory than shocking (MK's especially, but even Mrs S's to a certain degree) and a lot of my attention was diverted by what was happening over on Game of Thrones and Still Star Crossed. To paraphrase Mary Crawley, I'm sad the show has ended – but not as sad as I thought I would be, and that makes me sad.
In my mind I imagined this finale differently: there would be an elaborate and ingenious subterfuge carried out by the seestras and their allies, with clones impersonating each other three levels deep and every skill-set being utilized in surprising ways and a couple dozen twists and "oh shit" moments – but the show opted for a more lowkey resolution. I can't really hold it against them.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Orphan Black: One Fettered Slave

So it's not just work that's making these reviews late, it's that there's so much to process in each episode, and a part of me doesn't want it to end. It's hard to believe we only get one more episode of Orphan Black before it's over forever.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Orphan Black: Guillotines Decide

Late again, but it's been a busy week! Last week's preview of Orphan Black refused to show anything of this episode, which was a dead giveaway (no pun intended) that one of our regulars was not long for this world. The moment Sarah kissed Siobhan on her cheek and called her mum, I knew it would be Mrs S. C'mon, that's not even a spoiler, they were telegraphing it in neon lights throughout the entire episode!
So although I'm sad, I can't say I was upset. It didn't come as a huge surprise, and as death scenes go, it was a dignified one. Killing off minority characters is always a risk, but for every ten female characters that get fridged to make a male character sad (I've already seen two this year on Versailles and Into the Badlands) there's one that goes out on her own terms, looking fantastic and taking her killer down with her.