J.R.R. Tolkien would not enjoy The Rings of Power.
Wait! Before you roll your eyes and seek out a piece with a less whiny opening line, know that this is a generally favorable review of the Amazon series inspired by Tolkien’s creations. Much has been written already about the liberties taken by showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay, and sure: there are diversions, detours and a significant condensing of the timeline of Middle-Earth throughout the show’s first season, some of which result in frustrating missed opportunities. Entire diatribes have been dedicated to lamenting the fact that the Rings of Power elves have short hair, or that the Númenóreans should technically be like nine feet tall, or that mithril or the palantíri work very differently here (Erik Kain at Forbes has basically made a career these last few months mewling about what a “betrayal” the series is, at least when he’s not writing hard-hitting articles about Today’s Wordle Hints). So enough has been laid in print already detailing Power‘s departures from Tolkien’s source material, and yes, it’s all technically accurate.
And yet I have a hard time believing Tolkien would really give a shit about that. Before diving into why — and before getting to what the author’s real beef with the show would probably be — we’ll first issue a spoiler warning for The Rings of Power‘s first season.
Continue reading The Rings of Power — Season 1
For a long time now the internet has been a halcyon refuge for those steadfast in the belief that opinions can be equated with facts. Prior to the actual release of Gods of Egypt the film was subjected to the fervor whipped up by the fact that the cast was almost entirely white, and before you could say CGI sphinx most had written off GoE as a waste of time. In what may have been a heartfelt apology or one driven entirely by a marketing scramble to save face, director Alex Proyas publicly stated that they dropped the ball on the whole diversity thing. #EgyptSoWhite persevered as if Proyas had stayed silent because, hey, it’s the internet. No well-meaning statement is going to stopper a good ol’ fashioned media frenzy.
After GoE came out, though, the film was subjected to another kind of criticism, this time whipped up by the notion that the movie was actually really bad. Ah, the internet. Proyas responded, as Proyas seems wont to do. Here is his post from his Facebook in near-entirety, edited only slightly for length:
Continue reading Gods of Egypt (2016)
Pixar’s most recent creation, Inside Out, is not a children’s movie as it is advertised to be. The animation and young protagonist, Riley (Kaitlyn Dias), may suggest that the movie is for the ten and under crowd, but it most certainly is a movie that is better suited for an older audience. Now, this is not just a long-winded attempt at justifying the fact that I sat in a theater crowded with six-year olds to see this movie; it is a credit to Pixar for their ability to disguise an emotionally complex and subtly humorous film as a children’s movie. They have wisely used this model several times over, which has led to their vast success. Inside Out, even more so than other Pixar films, is able to not only entertain kids, parents, and everyone in between (or just me in between), but also provide a powerful message about the power and role of emotions.
It is no coincidence that Inside Out is a movie entirely about emotions, mostly centered on Joy (Amy Poehler) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith) because throughout the movie, at least the older portion of the audience goes on a journey of emotion as well, mostly between joy and sadness. As the protagonist Riley tries to adjust to her new life after moving from the comfort of her Minnesota home to San Francisco, we see how she and her emotions (Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger, and Disgust) handle the transition.
Continue reading Inside Out (2015)
- Brad Bird has announced (sort of) that The Incredibles 2 will be his next feature film. Any day Bird announces a new project is a good day, but it’s particularly sweet for him to be returning to The Incredibles. We’re eagerly awaiting his latest feature Tomorrowland (debuts May 22) and also eagerly awaiting any and all arguments about Incredibles being the best Pixar movie. Yeah, we said it.
- Fall television season will mark the cancellation of the likes of Constantine, The Following and The Mentalist and the happy renewal of Better Call Saul and American Crime. Between the renewed series, the new series (Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl), the revival series (X-Files, Twin Peaks, Heroes Reborn) and all those shows we’ve been meaning to watch for years — [head explodes].
- In casting news, Daniel Radcliffe and Dane DeHaan have reunited with Kill Your Darlings director John Krokidas for Young Americans, in which they’ll play Lee Atwater and Karl Rove, respectively. Darlings was only okay, but come on — DeHaan as ’70s-era pip-squeak Rove? That’s cool.
Continue reading Film & TV News: May 11
Here at Motion State, we don’t f*ck around. We’ve got it figured out. We hang ’em high, we die harder. We bring you the head of Alfredo Garcia. We learn to stop worrying and love the bomb. We’re not afraid of Virginia Woolf and never have been. Hell, we even self-bleep our f*cks. Suffice it to say that we’re professionals.
On those infallible grounds, we’re confident in the fact that the best character in the entire Lord of the Rings saga-on-film isn’t the noble wizard Gandalf nor the noble badass Aragorn; it’s not the against-all-odds Frodo nor his tagalong everyman Samwise. It’s certainly not Legolas, despite his superpowered eyesight and epic acrobatics, and it’s not Gimli despite his…it’s not Gimli. Are we about to try to convince you that it’s one of those comic relief companions
C-3PO and R2-D2 Merry and Pippin? Maybe pull one of those fast ones where we tell you that it’s the Ring, man, the Ring is the best character, or that we are the best character because Tolkien allowed us to roam free throughout wondrous Middle-Earth…nope. No such luck: the best LotR film character is Isildur, a guy with a fraction of the screentime of the aforementioned candidates, a jerk by all standards of fantasy heroism, dead long before the story really begins.
Continue reading The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
I have a kind of casual self-imposed policy of watching movies from the Marvel Cinematic Universe only once. Sometimes this works out beautifully, as in the case of, say, Thor: The Dark World, which I’m not sure I could sit through again without fast-forwarding to the parts with Tom Hiddleston. Other times I have a temptation to go back and watch a previous entry, usually on the eve of a new entry like Avengers: Age of Ultron. This policy is in effect partly because a good chunk of the MCU films are like The Dark World — sloppy, boring, noncommittal — and a second viewing only highlights these qualities. What do I do, then, if I need me my Thor fix now? I go read a Thor comic.
The real experiment afoot here is one that will fail, but one I hope for anyway: if the longevity of the MCU is the thing the MCU-makers are actually striving for, rather than that rusty and outdated model of making one good movie after another, then can I find a way to emphasize that? Can I enjoy the good and forget the bad and then return to the whole thing as one whole thing, years later, and really feel that longevity in the good and the bad?
Continue reading Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
So I missed the first ten minutes of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. The theater I go to is called Legacy, and — wouldn’t you know it! — there’s a similarly-named theater in Indiana, a state in which I do not live. The online purchasing mix-up was doubtless part of a North Korean ploy. After considering flying to Indiana to catch a movie I barely wanted to see, I opted instead to just jump into a showing that was already underway. It’s ten minutes, I thought, and this is a Peter Jackson movie.
So I’m waiting for Smaug to come out and breathe his fiery breath onto the poor Laketownians, but first it seems there’s a weepy scene between Luke Evans’s Bard and some other Laketownians. I try to ease into my seat and into the flow of the movie, but it’s instantly confusing. Is this a flashback? It’s only been ten minutes, so what could these people have to be weepy about so soon?
Continue reading The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)