‘The Rise of Skywalker’ and the Death of Star Wars

Star Wars, Star War, Star Wars…what is there to say that hasn’t already been said a million times over. This post is going to serve a singular purpose: I’m going to highlight why ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ will be better than ‘The Force Awakens’ and ‘The Last Jedi’, but still a bitter end to a rather disappointing and ultimately empty-feeling trilogy. We’ll have to consider the way this trilogy has been written (including structure and tone), the backlash of the middle movie, and the desperate grasping at straws that presents itself in the form of Ian McDiarmid i.e. Emperor Palpatine.

The Trilogy Structure

Jar Jar Binks Star Wars

image via Reddit

Star Wars as a cinematic universe has its fair share of problems, especially since being bought over by Disney. The ‘Disney Effect’, (similar to my ‘Sequel Escalation Theory’)which involves the churning out of as many movies as possible, has led to an oversaturation of Star Wars, live-action remakes, and superhero movies. ‘Solo’ is a bland, lacklustre disappointment. ‘Rogue One’, while unnecessary, at least packed a bit of an emotional punch. But ‘The Force Awakens’ and ‘The Last Jedi’ face a different problem. What’s that famous saying: Too many chefs spoil the broth?

When Star Wars returned with ‘The Force Awakens’, you had three writers behind the story. J. J. Abrams was arguably the driving force, but you also had Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt. When you get to ‘The Last Jedi’, you have Rian Johnson. This marks our first problem. A trilogy is meant to represent one larger story, typically the beginning, middle, and end of a character’s/characters’ journey or a plot, typically demonstrated through conflict and change.

For example: The prequel trilogy represents the three stages of Anakin’s journey from an innocent, hopeful slave boy, to an angry, stroppy, emo-kid, to a child murderer. It also shows the uprising of the Empire, the moving of Palpatine from out of the shadows, etc. You get the idea; you’ve undoubtedly seen the movies or at least understand how a trilogy typically works.

The Force Awakens

Star Wars The Force Awakens

image via YouTube

Abrams set the first part of this trilogy into motion by setting up various questions: who are Rey’s parents? Why is she so powerful with the force? Who is Snoke? How did Maz Katana get Luke’s lightsaber? How did the First Order get so powerful? Why is Luke in exile? This movie cut many corners without explanation, but in terms of setting up the direction of the trilogy (all be it as a hollow copy of the original trilogy), it did a decent enough job.

My main issue with ‘The Force Awakens’ is that it went too big too early. I mean the idea of them making another Death Star is even commented on by Han Solo within the movie. What will they build in ‘The Rise of Skywalker’, a Death Star that destroys entire galaxies? The end of ‘The Force Awakens’ marks the downfall of this trilogy, in my opinion. We see the Death Star being destroyed, we see Rey beginning to beat Kylo Ren (after mastering her force abilities in a matter of minutes), and we see most of the First Order being destroyed.

So, what comes next? The movie ends with Rey handing Luke his lightsaber, and then the credits roll.

The Last Jedi

Star Wars The Last Jedi

image via Slashfilm

I’m trying my best not to rant endlessly about these movies, but ‘The Last Jedi’ was SO bad that I need to mention a few things. Firstly, I can appreciate what Rian Johnson was trying to do. Everyone enjoyed Game of Thrones because the unexpected could happen. Johnson’s aim was to subvert fans’ expectations. An admirable goal, one that he lacked the experience and knowledge to pull off.

Look at this way. Imagine Abrams is building a snowman. He builds the body, he gives the snowman a head and arms, but then his mother calls him in for dinner. So, he gives a box to Johnson which contains a range of hats, jackets, various items for facial features, and maybe even a couple of pipes. When Abrams comes back outside, he finds that the snowman is just a giant snow dick with misshapen, lumpy, cancer-ridden testicles.

Why? Because Johnson wanted to create something unexpected. He wanted to be funny (because we’re an immature species that for some reason laughs at cocks), but also serious (because cancer is a hard-hitting topic). That’s what ‘The Last Jedi’ is: a mismatch of dire, intense moments, with cheesy one-liners, out of place humour, and unexpected moments that are moronic rather than clever. Sprinkle in some unnecessary social commentary, and you’ve summed up the movie.

Who are Rey’s parents? Who gives a shit! Why is she so powerful! She just is. What is Luke doing in exile? Hiding for reasons that even Mark Hamill views as moronic. Where did Snoke come from? Fuck Snoke, he got killed by Kylo Ren despite being the most powerful person to appear in the Star Wars cinematic universe. Unsurprisingly, ‘The Last Jedi’ divided the fanbase quite drastically.

The Rise of Skywalker

Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker

image via Mashable

This brings us nicely to the upcoming movie ‘The Rise of Skywalker’. Disney has received a lot of backlash as a result of their recent Star Wars movies. But the only new Star Wars movie I want to see (an Obi-Wan spin-off) seems to have been put on hold indefinitely, most likely as a result of this. I haven’t heard anything else about Johnson’s own trilogy (which I won’t be watching), and the writers of Game of Thrones and their own trilogy (which I also won’t be watching).

So, why do I believe that ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ will be the best of this trilogy? Firstly, J. J. Abrams is writing and directing the final instalment. I don’t imagine that he would have accepted that role if he felt that the trilogy was doomed.

There is a lot of pressure on this final movie. Star Wars fans who feel let down by ‘The Last Jedi’ and ‘Solo’ aren’t going to give Disney unlimited chances. I’m not even that big a Star Wars fan (unless you’re talking about Star War Battlefront for Playstation 2) and even I’ve found myself abandoning the series. So, given that Disney has just invested a lot of money into new Star Wars themed section of Disneyland, they need to keep the franchise alive.

However, this is also why I feel that ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ is going to be a bitter pill to swallow. The easiest way to explain this is to consider the Star Wars universe as a whole, and how the threads connect between all the movies.

Star Wars: Forcing Nostalgia

Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker

image via Wired

Once we move past the original trilogy, we rely heavily on the existence of already-established characters to make Star Wars movies feel connected. I’m not talking about main characters, obviously. We have Ob-Wan, Anakin, Emperor Palpatine, etc, who all appear in the prequel trilogy and the original trilogy. However, we also get other characters pushed into the movies for the sake of making them feel connected, forcing nostalgia down our throats.

A prime example would be Jabba the Hut. There’s no reason that we need to see Jabba again, and yet he’s hosting pod races in ‘The Phantom Menace’. Speaking of which, Darth Maul pops up at the end of ‘Solo’. Why? Not to push storyline, but to add a sense of mystery that forces you to explore the non-cinematic sources of Star Wars storytelling. Through which you learn that Darth Maul didn’t actually die in ‘The Phantom Menace’. This would be all well and good if it led to an Obi-Wan spin-off, but as it currently stands its simply nostalgia, nothing more.

Why does Yoda appear as a force ghost in ‘The Last Jedi’ but not Obi-Wan? We’ve seen Obi-Wan as a force ghost too many times, yet Yoda only appears at the end of ‘Return of the Jedi’. Chewbacca appears in ‘Revenge of the Sith’ for no real reason beyond fuelling fan theories. You get the idea.

What has this got to do with ‘The Rise of Skywalker’?

What We Can Expect

Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker

image via Geek Tyrant

For those of you who have seen the trailer (which I’m sure is all of you), you’ll already be aware of where I’m going with this. The trailer for ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ ends with Luke saying, “we’ll always be with you. No one’s ever really gone.” This is followed by the unmistakable cackle of none other than Emperor Palpatine. This is where the dread I hold for this movie originates.

Hearing Palpatine laughing means one of three things: 1) He somehow survived the events of ‘Return of the Jedi’. 2) He is appearing as a dark side force ghost. 3) His consciousness has somehow been stored on some otherwise unheard-of Star Wars tech.

However, these three things combine into one reason why Ian McDiarmid has returned to reprise the role: they are grasping at straws. Disney need to drag everyone into this movie that they can in order to generate hype and reignite the passions of fans.

What can we expect? I’d imagine some ridiculously contrived story that aims to explain character actions and motivations in ‘The Last Jedi’ e.g. how Snoke was killed so easily, how Rey is so powerful, and why Kylo Ren seemed to be swithering between good and evil in ‘The Force Awakens’ before turning psycho in ‘The Last Jedi’.

Beyond how idiotic this will be for ‘The Rise of Skywalker’, you also have to consider the larger implications of Palpatine being alive (if he is still alive). For starters, it kind of fucks up the entirety of Anakin’s redemption arc and the whole fulfilment of the prophecy. Sure, Anakin died saving Luke, which is lovely, but he wouldn’t have defeated the Sith.

The trailer alone suggests a near-endless string of call backs to the original trilogy. We have Billy Dee Williams returning as Lando Carlrissian. We see the medals that the heroes were awarded at the end of ‘A New Hope’. Some of the speeders resemble those used in ‘Return of the Jedi’. I could go on, but the worst part is that we’ll still get nothing from the new main character: Rey. Luke had more development in the first act of ‘A New Hope’ than Rey has had in this entire trilogy.

In Summary

Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker

image via Star Wars

Just to sum up this rather incoherent babbling: this trilogy isn’t really a trilogy, but rather a series of sequels that are connected through the use of the same main characters. It doesn’t perform the function of a trilogy at all, and we will see that this final movie will stoop to any low in order to desperately claw back any fans it can.


Thanks for reading! Are you excited for ‘The Rise of Skywalker’? What have you thought of the trilogy so far. Let me know down below! 

Don’t forget to follow me on here and on Twitter to stay up to date with my posts!

If you have anything to add or perhaps a suggestion for a future post, leave a comment!

Peace!

Advertisements

Fixing Game of Thrones: A Fan’s Perspective!

Game of Thrones has become a bit…disappointing, to say the least. Where season 7 was a little lacklustre and illogical, season 8 has taken this to a whole new level. Decade-long character development and plot building has been thrown out the window in favour of tension building and shocking moments. It’s worth noting that I’m not a writer, I’m not involved in the movie/TV industry, and I don’t claim to have any knowledge or skills that would allow me to create something even a fraction as entertaining as Game of Thrones. I also haven’t read any of the books, so my knowledge is based entirely on the show. However, I am a fan and this post is simply a reflection of a fan’s perspective of how this season could have been improved. With just one episode to go (at the time of writing this) here are my thoughts!

At the end of the day, Game of Thrones is NOT my show and it’s not your show. What you or I feel should or shouldn’t have happened is irrelevant and we just have to accept whatever ending we are given!

The Problem

Game of Thrones

image via Know Your Meme

Entertainment news has been quick to jump onto the bandwagon of hating the show. For the record, I don’t hate season 8. Certain outcomes had been building for a long time (such as the Mad Queen), but the portrayal and build-up to these motivations has resulted in flaky character motivations and highly illogical decisions. With a petition titled ‘Remake Game of Thrones Season 8 with Competent Writers’ gaining over a million signatures, is there a genuine problem with this season?

I think it’s important to address the aspects that aren’t an issue. Dany becoming the Mad Queen isn’t the problem, something that Bran actor Isaac Hempstead-Wright doesn’t understand about the backlash. He stated “[Game of Thrones is] unpredictable by nature. The fact that characters are not doing what people want them to do? It’s a good thing…”

Other stars of the show have expressed their dissatisfaction with the show’s final season. Perhaps none more so than Conleth Hill (Lord Varys) who stated that he took it personally when his character was side-lined for the last few seasons, before dying this season.

The Solution

Game of Thrones

image via Variety

So, what would I change and why would it make the slightest bit of difference? Let’s start with season 6 and work our way forward. Again, I’m not a writer. Everything that Dan and Dave, as well as George R. R. Marin, have put into this show is above and beyond anything that I could achieve in my lifetime. As a fan (and lets face it, sometimes fans can be the worst critics), this is simply how I feel the final season of Game of Thrones could have ended in a way that A) made more sense, and B) was more loyal to the character development that had already taken place.

Change #1: Tyrion and Dany

Game of Thrones

image via Metro

The first thing that would be essential to change would be the relationship between Dany and Tyrion. We see this becoming rather stretched and fragmented throughout season 7 and season 8. From as far back as season 6, I would have had Tyrion be the advisor we all imagined he would become. Even before he had gained valuable experience as hand of the king, he was naturally good at his job.

His advice wouldn’t always be perfect, and he wouldn’t always succeed, but more often than not his advice would be sound and lead to a favourable outcome. At the very least, he would just be outsmarted rather than simply making questionable decisions. As of season 8, we’ve watched the character become a bit of a moron, something Peter Dinklage himself addressed.

If Tyrion had been true to his character and remained an intelligent and strong-willed hand, Dany would trust him, and they would develop a deeper friendship. She would not only rely on his advice, but also turn to him when in need of emotional support. By the time we get to The Dragon and the Wolf (S7E7), Tyrion would be wary of Cersei (as he has every reason to be based on his entire life experience). Despite the episode unfolding in the same manner as it originally did, he wouldn’t be so easily convinced, urging his allies to assume that Cersei’s forces from the south would not be joining them, making him all the more surprised when Jaime turns up.

Change #2: The Tarlys

Game of Thrones Tarly

image via Watchers on the Wall

I would make a minor change in the Eastwatch episode (S7E5). When Dany is giving soldiers the choice: bend the knee or burn (a choice that ultimately leads to Randall and Dickon Tarly being burned alive), I would have Tyrion step in.

The scene would unravel in much the same way as before: Dany tells people to bend the knee, Randall Tarly would refuse, and she’d threatens to burn him alive. He’s a stubborn man and the way he died made sense for his character, especially after seeing his interactions with Sam. So, the same as before, he gets cooked.

When all the other soldiers bend the knee, Dickon Tarly still refuses. He wishes to respect his father’s choice and honour his memory. Dany is prepared to roast him but Tyrion steps in, convincing her to give the man time to think on his decision. Dany listens to her advisor, who at this point hasn’t made major mistakes and still fully has her trust. She respects his opinion and accepts that she doesn’t know exactly how politics and loyalties in Westeros function.

In later episodes (maybe as far ahead as when Dany and Ser Jorah meet Sam in Winterfell), Dany will consider the advice that Tyrion gave her to be evidence of his wisdom, but also as a control for her temperament. This will serve as evidence that Tyrion is capable of stopping the Mad Queen, should such a time ever arrive. Whenever the news is broken to Sam, he learns that his brother is still alive at least. This moment would remind Dany of her humanity and would demonstrate to Sam that she isn’t a monster, causing him to be less antagonistic regarding Jon’s claim to the throne (something that only really existed due to Dany killing Sam’s brother in the first place).

Change #3: Jon and Dany

Game of Thrones Dany and Jon

image via Uproxx

The next aspect, one that only develops in season 7 and then unravels in season 8, is the relationship between Dany and Jon. I wouldn’t change a great deal in regard to season 7 itself, I think that setting up the relationship in the manner they did made sense. I think the only real issue was Jon’s blind loyalty. There’s no denying that Jon is loyal and honourable, it’s something we’ve seen in him time and time again, but he also knows when to stand up for what is right. He doesn’t go against his own morals simply because someone carries the title of ‘King’ or ‘Queen’.

Going into season 8 and the discovery of Jon’s true parentage, I’d suggest a few major changes take place. Dany has always wanted the Iron Throne, it’s her birth right, but she’s also wanted a family. Jon is family: both in terms of blood and romantic interest. Rather than her becoming a paranoid, controlling mess, she should become more torn between the notion of choosing between love or the throne. Rather than just showing Dany to be heartbroken because she wants the throne, let’s show her struggle to decide which is more important to her, and as a result work towards a solution WITH Jon, not against him.

Jon’s love life has always been a bit forbidden. Ygritte was a wildling, the sworn enemy of the Night’s Watch, and yet he couldn’t stop being in love with her. I would have that same idea take place with Dany. Rather than having Jon begin to reject her after discovering that they are aunt and nephew, they would be madly in love for all of season 8, eliminating the need for ridiculous political plots, dodgy whisper exchanges, and shade being thrown left, right, and centre. Jon would view Dany as his Queen, sure, but he’d also be in love with her and wouldn’t see the Mad Queen signs beginning to appear. You could say that he is blinded by love!

Change #4: The Battle of Winterfell

Game of Thrones Battle of Winterfell

image via Time

There are a number of changes I’d make with this episode. I’d originally stated that I’d have Rhaegal die during this episode, but I’ve since realised that his death could be put to better use. I also came up with a change related to the Night King and the outcome of the Battle of Winterfell, but I’ve realised that’s too complex to get into here. Instead, let’s assume that the battle must end the same way.

For starters, I wouldn’t have all the Dothraki be sent in at once. We discover in the episodes following this one that half of the Dothraki and Unsullied survived, even though both appear to get well and truly annihilated. Not to mention that in the finale episode trailer, her army seems to have actually grown. So, either you send less in and that explains why more survive, or you don’t have as many survive in the first place. Either of these makes more sense that what happened. One solution would be to have half the Unsullied inside Winterfell. After all, it makes no strategic sense to have that many outside the walls. Strategy is a whole other issue that I’m not going to get into now.

The Crypts of Winterfell

The Crypts of Winterfell just made no sense. If you have half a brain, you should be able to make a couple of connections. 1) You’re fighting and army that everyone refers to as ‘the dead’. 2) The bulk of this army are literally the undead, who have been raised by the Night King. 3) Many of the characters have witnessed this raising of the dead and have fought them on multiple occasions. As a result of these three points, you would have to be mentally challenged to not consider the likelihood of the dead being raised in any major battle. You’d have to be a whole new level of stupid to actually put all the vulnerable people in a room quite literally full of dead bodies.

One solution would be to have them block the doors to the crypts and then have the dead breakthrough into an area where the vulnerable people are actually being kept. An alternative would be to actually send them south, away from Winterfell, but have some of the dead catch up with them.

I would have a scene where Gillie is killed, along with many others, and Baby Sam is left lying in the snow, much in the same way he would have been at Craster’s Keep. Sansa could live or die. I don’t feel that her survival matters a great deal in terms of the plot going forward. Tyrion, Varys, and Missandei would live, but other than that everyone else who was originally in the Crypts could/would die.

Character Deaths

The next change would involve the main characters. Too many of them had super thick plot armour in this episode. We ended up with an MCU-style battle where the main characters appear to be overwhelmed at multiple scenes and yet survive. It was so ridiculous that I actually believed most of the main characters had died, and it wasn’t until episode 4 that I learned that they hadn’t. Here’s the people who should definitely have died:

  • Samwell Tarly
  • Mellisandre (her death was moronic; she should have died lighting the trenches)
  • Ser Davos
  • Brienne of Tarth
  • Grey Worm

These deaths are important for a number of reasons. For starters, they would reflect the threat of the Night King and leave the show feeling emptier (in terms of character number) and harder hit by the threat that has been building for 10 years. Losing Ed, Beric, Theon, and Ser Jorah didn’t really pack that much of an emotional punch. Speaking of Theon, we have the next change.

The Night King

Everything about Arya killing the Knight King was stupid. Yes, it tied into what Melissandre said seasons ago (although tying that into the Faceless Men felt good enough for me). Yes, it tied into why Bran gave Arya the dagger. Yes, it tied into her fight with Brienne, as well as several other moments. But why Arya? Her killing the Night King changed nothing about her story at all. It was meaningless! So, who should have killed the Night King? Jon? Bran? The Little Bear? A dragon?

The answer? Theon! Assuming we’re keeping the Night King’s death relatively similar to how the events unfolded, I would have Theon try to fight the Night King (although less in the manner he did on the show). Theon’s fight would be fantastic, and it certainly wouldn’t be long lasting. He would get stabbed, fall to the ground, still alive and about to be finished off by the Night King. At this point, if you want Arya to come flying out of nowhere like Spider-Man jumping through one of Doctor Strange’s portals in Infinity War, that’s fine. But have the Night King grab her by the throat and even if she manages to strike him, she hits the armour and fails. This opens up a small gap which allows Theon (who is in the final moments of his life) to stab him.

The way the Night King was defeated was incredibly anti-climactic. You can’t claim that you want a show to be surprising, unique, and distanced from the usual clichés, and then employ the same ‘kill the leader and the soldiers fall’ trope used in every similar battle where the allies are outnumbered.

Change #5: Rhaegal

Game of Thrones Rhaegal

image via Popsugar

Episode 4 could largely unfold the same way as it did, but more on that in a moment. We have to consider the death of Rhaegal. Not only was this moment stupid beyond belief. Not only were the 3 shots, over miles and miles of distance, while Rhaegal is on the move, all without being seen, and simply being explained with “Dany kind of forgot about the Iron Fleet…” But this move was entirely for the shock-factor and nothing more.

Rhaegal needs to survive in order for the rest of my changes to make sense. Jon and Dany would be riding the dragons together at this moment (as they are madly in love), and they would see the Iron Fleet (because they are fucking miles in the air and away from a large squad of very noticeable ships) and would try to attack. The threat of the scorpions would be too high, and Jon and Dany would realise that they can’t attack the fleet with the dragons, not only because they can’t risk losing the dragons, but because they can’t risk losing each other.

It kills them to do so, but they have to fly away, and can only watch in horror as their ships are then destroyed by the Iron Fleet. Dany and Jon fly down and take as many survivors away before the Iron Fleet catches them, including Tyrion, but many get captured (including Messandei).

This could happen in a number of slightly different ways, the important part being that Tyrion and Rhaegal survive, while Messandei is captured. Although, I have to say that the whole idea of her being captured and taken back to King’s Landing seemed absolutely moronic and again served no purpose beyond shocking audiences later in a more dramatic way.

Change #6: Mad Queen Set-Up

Game of Thrones Mad Queen

image via Inverse

Towards the end of episode 4, when Dany and Tyrion stand before Cersei to discuss her surrender, Jon would be there as well. They’d be standing much further back than they were in the episode. Rather than only Missandei being held by Cersei, there would be a number of prisoners (perhaps including Varys, but that would depend on the later changes), all lined up for execution. Again, I feel that this scene is moronic, but when you only have 6 episodes to reach a specific plot point, you have to work with what you’ve got. Tyrion, realising that Dany is breaking at the sight of seeing one of her few remaining friends being prepared for execution, pleads to Cersei.

Tyrion has two motivations: 1) He wants to help Dany by saving Missandei. He views it as his duty as hand to the queen, but he also loves her (maybe as a friend, maybe more) and wants to do whatever he can to end her suffering and make her happy. 2) He knows what will happen if Dany is pushed to the edge. He’s seen her snap, he’s seen the flames in her eyes when things don’t go according to plan (such as her burning fleets, the convoy from High Garden, and Randall Tarly). He wants to save the innocent people of King’s Landing, but he also wants to save Dany from becoming a monster.

It’s important to note that in ‘The Dragon and the Wolf’ (S7E7) when Cersei agrees to Tyrion’s terms and lets him live, it isn’t out of some hidden affection, love, or respect for him, it’s because it’s a necessary step in her plan. She wants him to suffer and she wants everyone he is with to die, but the only way she can save herself and King’s Landing from experiencing the Mad Queen right then and there, is to make him believe that she’ll send troops north.

This isn’t the case anymore, and so Cersei (who has tried to kill Tyrion in the past and has made her desire to kill him clear many times) has no reason not to kill him now. Most of Dany and Jon’s forces are still marching down from Winterfell at that point, so forcing them to attack now would offer a strategic advantage to Cersei. So, Cersei kills the prisoners (including Missandei) and as Tyrion starts to realise that he’s in danger and begins his journey back to his own forces, Cersei turns the scorpions on him and kills him, beginning to fire in the direction of Dany, Jon, the dragons, and their forces.

Change #7: Character Changes

Game of Thrones Jaime Brienne

image via TV Line

This change actually takes place on either side of #6 and #7. I wouldn’t have Jaime hook-up with Brienne, since she’d be dead. But as he suffers her loss, he would begin to continue along towards the end of his character arc. Jaime has come a long way, and it’s only recently (starting with destruction of the Great Sept of Baelor and ending with Cersei’s lie about sending troops north) that he’s began to accept that his love for her has allowed him to turn a blind eye to both their immoral actions. He’s already snuck into King’s Landing at this point and is making his way to Cersei.

The importance of the relationship between Dany and Jon would become apparent in the next change. In the real version of events, there is a gap where Dany returns to Dragonstone to sulk after Missandei dies, and then returns to King’s Landing. She goes from Mad Queen, to depressed, to Mad Queen again. One of my changes would have her get angry and thirsty for revenge immediately. Jon would now be the only person left to keep Dany from becoming the Mad Queen. Episode 4 would end much in the same way it did, but episode 5 would start exactly where the previous one left off: with fire in Dany’s eyes and revenge on her mind.

Change #8: The Mad Queen

Game of Thrones King's Landing

image via Refinery29

With no other choice, Jon follows Dany (on Rhaegal) as she begins to wipe out the scorpions that are on the walls. They blast open an entrance to King’s Landing, in order for Dany’s remaining forces to enter. Working together, they destroy much of the Iron Fleet. As Jon goes to kill Euron, Rhaegal is killed and Jon flung from him, landing in the sea. Dany only sees this at the last moment and believes that Jon has been killed. In a fit of rage and without thought, she swoops down and kills Euron, who accepts his death, laughing hysterically as Dany swoops down to incinerate him.

With the small army of remaining Unsullied and Dothraki left, and with a gap in the wall having been blown open, the Golden Company begin their defence and are succeeding in defeating the attacking forces. Dany begins wiping out the defence, including much of the Golden Company, but she doesn’t know where Cersei is. Her rage is growing and she’s losing control. She begins just burning the place down, believing that the love of her life, one of the few people left in this world who she loves and trusts, has died. With most of her army gone and the loss of her dragon and Jon, she knows that no risk can be taken, so she burns everything, getting revenge on those who have brought her so much pain but also securing her victory, as she knows this is the one and only chance she’ll get.

Change #9: Arya and Jaime

Game of Thrones Aerys II

image via Nerdist

In the midst of all of this, we have a few other characters whose role we need to consider. Arya and the Hound were on their way to kill Cersei, and with Cleganebowl in full hype, I think we need a way for Arya to cross people off her list. Yes, having the Hound kill the Mountain with fire in order to symbolise the fact that his hatred for his brother is more powerful than the fear of fire that his brother created makes sense and is a satisfying conclusion.

Instead though, I would have the Hound say goodbye to Arya as he leaves to take his brother on alone. We see her following him, unwilling to let him die. With all the falling debris, the Mountain would have an advantage and would be ready to kill the Hound. Arya would block the killing strike and would finish the Mountain off herself. With the Hound dying and the building caving in, he asks Arya to kill him. She doesn’t want to but realises that it’s mercy. So, she is able to cross both names off her list (not that she says as much for the Hound given that he was no longer on her list).

Next is Jaime, who has found Cersei, having entered the city much in the same way he did already in the show). The thing is, we know that Cersei has to die, but what would she do that would force Jaime to take such action? That’s possibly the only benefit of having them be crushed by rubble. My first thought is the approaching Mad Queen. With Jaime having witnessed people being burned alive by the dragons already, he knows that Cersei is going to die one way or another, and so he chooses mercy over suffering, knowing that Cersei isn’t going to surrender. You could have Dany nearing, perhaps even having spotted Cersei, and so Jaime has mere moments to act.

Another option would be some sort of “fail-safe” which would kill even more people than Dany already has. After all, we saw explosions of Wild Fire during Dany’s attack on King’s Landing in episode 5. Some have suggested that this was simply leftover Wild Fire from Aerys II’s “Burn them all!” moment, but what if it was actually another plan of Cersei’s? We know that she had some leftover from destryoing the Sept of Baelor, so what if she opened the gates not just to use innocent people as a human shield, but to allow Dany’s forces to enter and be melted by Wild Fire? As such, Jaime’s arc comes to a complete end. It starts with him killing the Mad King and ends with him killing one of the Mad Queens (Cersei). Jaime had changed so much as a person, and him standing up to Cersei at the end of season 7 was an important turn for his character. Having him return to that because “he loves Cersei” and having Dany killing everyone because “she’s a Targaryen” are just awful reasons for characters to do something.

One thing we would NOT have is Tyrion plotting against Dany and the others in order to save Cersei’s life, because he would already be dead by this point. Not to mention that that was one of the most illogical and out of character moments in the whole show.

The Iron Throne

For Cersei and Jaime, I would have Cersei refusing to give up the Iron Throne. This would still tie into what I mentioned earlier about Jaime having to kill her. He would do so in the same manner he killed the Mad King, and she would sit on the Iron Throne, dying there before Dany could reach her.

When Dany does get there, she uses Drogon to burn Cersei which in turn melts the Iron Throne. This would be symbolic in a number of ways, but would also be a good way to “break the wheel” by breaking the throne. Nobody would sit on the Iron Thron (at least not literally) ever again.

 

Change #10: Jon, Dany, and the Night King

Game of Thrones Jon Snow

image via Mashable

The episode ends with Jon climbing out of the water, the city in ruins and in flames. Men, women, and children are all screaming. Dany can’t believe he’s alive, but she’s already lost a part of herself, and in destroying King’s Landing, has destroyed the person she once was. As her cruelty continues, driven by the fear of losing the throne, Jon would have no choice but to kill her. Jon would become King, abducating immedietly to leave it in the hands of someone he trusts to do a good job. The south isn’t for him, it never has been. His home is in the north.

At this point, if there was another season to go, I’d have Jon head north with the wildlings, possibly even with Drogon. Game of Thrones resonates with something that Mark Twain once said:

History doesn’t repeat itself but it often rhymes!”

We got little to no information about the White Walkers and the Night King. We only saw the Lands of Forever Winter (or whatever they are called) once in a tiny moment showing what happens to Craster’s inbred sons. I would have Jon and some of his closest allies head all the way north in search of a new home, where they would make a shocking discovery, one that would set things in motion so that 5,000-10,000 years in the future, the world will face another threat. This keeps the cycle going.

What if the Night King and his army were motivated not by some random-ass motivation of killing everyone and making Westeros suffer an endless winter, but by the threat of Dany and her dragons? The Night King wasn’t evil, but rather a balancing force that was necessary to defeat an equally as destructive power?


Thanks for reading! What are you thoughts on Game of Thrones? Did you enjoy season 8? Let me know down below! 

Don’t forget to follow me on here and on Twitter to stay up to date with my posts!

If you have anything to add or perhaps a suggestion for a future post, leave a comment!

Peace!

A Justification for the Criminalization of Tobacco!

Don’t let the title fool you, I’m actually a supporter of drug legalization. However, the hypocrisy in this country has to be called out. As misguided as many may view my opinion as being, I’m of the belief that as adults, we should have the right to choose what we do or don’t put into our bodies. If it were up to me, all soft-drugs would be legalized or at the very least decriminalized. We live in a world where it’s acceptable to eat, drink, and smoke yourself to death, provided you do so on the legal, taxable substances. Make no mistake: the most dangerous thing about soft-drugs is getting caught with them. Taking the government view on these matters into consideration, I’m going to explore the legality of certain substances in order to truly highlight the blatant hypocrisy and to demonstrate that public safety is not the government’s concern.

Understanding the Law

Tobacco UK

image via Wikimedia

I’m from the UK, and so I’ll be composing this argument with the UK government in mind. Depending on the information and research available, I will occasionally focus on specific countries within the UK, mostly Scotland and England. It speaks volumes that we have to travel all the way back to 1971 in order to view the law controlling drugs in the UK.

The Misuse of Drugs Act (1971) serves to classify illegal substances into one of three categories, known as the ABC system. ‘A’ represents the most harmful drugs and ‘C’ represents the least harmful (as far as illegal drugs are concerned). ‘B’ represents some form of arbitrary middle ground. Unlike many other countries, the UK does not attempt to clearly define the “entry requirements” for each class in the ABC system. As the parliamentary website states:

“The Misuse of Drugs Act did not specify why particular drugs were placed in Class A, B or C but did create an Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) to keep the classification of drugs under review.”

Cannabis has an interesting history within the UK’s ABC system. Originally a class B, it was reclassified as class C in 2004. However, it was moved back to class B in 2008 as a result of stronger strains becoming available and the potential connection this had to mental health issues. Yet around 7.2% of adults (between 16 and 59) have used the drug, which is around 2.4 million people.

Soft Drugs vs Hard Drugs

Tobacco UK

image via Wikipedia

As I mentioned, the UK does not divide its illegal substances into categories based upon the addictive qualities and overall harm of the drugs. This distinction leads to terms such as ‘soft drugs’ and ‘hard drugs’. These are incredibly vague and don’t have a set definition, which can confuse matters. Typically, ‘soft drugs’ is used to “describe drugs like cannabis or LSD which cannot result in physical dependency.” While the term ‘hard drug’ “usually refers to drugs that are seen to be more dangerous and more likely to cause dependency such as heroin and crack cocaine…”

So, why am I mentioning the terms at all? Despite the definitions being somewhat open, there is certainly a clear distinction between the two. One group can be used in moderation without negatively impacting the induvial or society to any great extent, the other, not so much. You don’t have to have seen Trainspotting to know that weed and psilocybin don’t really compete with the harm of heroin.

My argument is formed around this simple point of view: when we explore the reasons why certain drugs are illegal (soft drugs such as marijuana, psilocybin mushroom, and DMT) and legal (such as alcohol and tobacco) we find that the justifications for each are flimsy, at best. If safety is the government’s main cause for concern, surely that must mean that alcohol and tobacco are safe to use, right?

Tobacco

Tobacco UK

image via World IP Review

The UK’s history with tobacco is a little strange. Having arrived in England in 1565, tobacco didn’t seem to take with the British public. King James I spoke out publicly on the matter, describing tobacco as:

“…loathsome to the eye, hateful to the nose, harmful to the brain [and] dangerous to the lungs.”

However, it soon followed the common path that most drugs take: it became a medicine. During the plague, it was believed that tobacco smoke could protect people from “disease miasmas” (a poisonous vapour carrying disease that could be detected by its bad smell) (somewhat ironic). The connections between slavery and tobacco imports are widely known, and this was a major issue until machines took over in the late 1800s.

Anti-smoking campaigners were largely regarded as “eccentrics” and yet they are primarily responsible for the introduction of a clause in the Children’s Act in 1908 which made the sale of tobacco to those under the age of 16 illegal.

Despite a connection between ill-health and smoking being widely known, the supposed stress-relief provided by tobacco came with “health benefits” that would serve as a major selling point. Sound familiar? Only recently have the supposed health benefits of “a glass of wine a day” been shown to be inaccurate from a scientific standpoint.

In the 1950s, the first reports linking smoking to the formation of lung cancer were released. The government, very aware of the economic domino effect that would follow a decline in smoking, didn’t speak out on the matter until the 1960s. It wasn’t until the 1970s that cigarette packaging included a health warning. In the 1980s, the risk associated with public smoking was raised, but again, it took until 2007 for the government to ban smoking in enclosed public places. It wasn’t until this same year that the government raised the minimum age for purchasing tobacco to 18.

Is Smoking Harmful?

Tobacco UK

image via BBC

According to the Office for National Statistics, it is estimated that 15.1% of adults in the UK smoke cigarettes as of 2017. This number varies slightly between sources as Cancer Research suggests that around 19% of UK adults smoke. This would be around 9.4 million people (which is nearly double the entire population of Scotland). They also suggest that smoking is the “largest cause of cancer” in the UK, with it being responsible for around 15% of cancer victims. It’s also worth noting that the same website reports the significantly higher prevalence of smoking within poorer areas.

We can delve into these figures a little more. For example, we can consider the hospital admissions related to smoking. According to NHS England figures, in 2016/17 there was estimated to be 484,700 admissions attributable to smoking, which is around 4% of ALL hospital admissions.

The above graph is also from the NHS England website. As you can see, adults who had never smoked were more likely to report feeling healthier than those who were ex-smokers or current smokers.42% of non-smokers described themselves as being in ‘very good health’ compared to 26% of current-smokers. 11% of current-smokers described themselves as feeling in ‘bad or very bad health’ compared to only 5% of those who have never smoked.

It’s important for people to realise that tobacco carries a mental health impact as well. You’ll often hear discussions about other drugs and how they cause mental illness (such as marijuana), and yet the same types of studies show the exact same thing for tobacco consumption. More in-depth research paints a fuller picture of the impact of smoking on neurological processes being akin to that the government/media claim is the case for marijuana consumption.

Death by Tobacco

Tobacco UK

image via TidatBase

Given that we’ve explored the general health implications tobacco quite clearly has, does it cause death? Of course it does! Throughout the UK, there is alarming number of preventable deaths each year as a result of smoking. In Scotland, the number is 10,000 (one fifth of all deaths), in Wales the number is 5,500, in Northern Ireland its 2,300, and in England it’s a staggering 78,000 death. Every year in the UK, 95,800 people are dying from a drug that the government deems safe enough to be legal.

When it comes to passive smoking, which is arguably more horrifying given that nobody chooses to be a passive smoker, we find some pretty similar results. Research suggests that around 11,000 deaths in the UK each year are the result of passive smoke inhalation, with 20% of these being from smoking at the workplace and 80% being from home.

The impact of passive smoking is most noticeable in children, who rarely have a choice as to whether or not to be in the vicinity of smokers. Cancer Research suggests that there is overwhelming evidence to support that idea that second-hand smoke can lead to lung cancer (among other types), heart disease, strokes, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), and more. Children who live in a household where at least 1 person smokes are more likely to develop asthma, chest infections, meningitis, ear infections, and coughs and colds.

Smoking and Pregnancy

Tobacco UK

image via OPTO

One shocking statistic relates to pregnant women. According to NHS England, 10.8% of mothers were smoking at the time of delivery. Why does this matter? During pregnancy, it isn’t just the health of the mother that is a cause for concern. Research suggests that smoking during pregnancy can have an adverse effect on the child’s neurodevelopment. It has been suggested that this is a result of the carbon monoxide contained in tobacco smoke which limits the oxygen available for the baby’s brain. Smoking during pregnancy can also result in tissue damage which could include lung or brain development issue, or the development of a cleft lip.

Even pregnant women who simply inhale smoke passively (as well as those who smoke directly, obviously) are likely to give birth to a child with weaker lungs, which leads to a major increase in potential health problems in later life.

The negative health impact that smoking has isn’t limited to the development of the child though. When a mother smokes, she is more likely to enter premature labour. Given that the leading cause of death, disability, and disease among new-borns, is preterm birth, this is a huge cause for concern. This issue includes passive smokers. Mothers who smoke (either directly or passively) are more likely to give birth to a low-weight child, which typically has long-term health implications.

Even if the labour and birth seem to go smoothly, babies whose mother smoked during pregnancy or who smoke near the baby after birth are three times more likely to die from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). This goes above and beyond choosing to consume a drug. This is quite clearly an epidemic that is impacting the lives of those who haven’t even been born yet! What say do they get in the matter?

Cost

Tobacco UK

image via Wallpaper Up

Since we’ve already established that widespread death and disease hasn’t been enough of an incentive to outright ban tobacco smoking, perhaps money is a better approach. The problem we have here is that the tobacco industry contributes around £12 billion in tax each year which is arguably the main reason that the government would never consider making the substance illegal. But how much does it cost?

Smoking costs NHS Scotland (a public body that gets its funding from the government) as much as £300 million each year, which in the face of £12 billion is barely a drop of water in the ocean. In England, this figure is as high as £2 billion though, which certainly begins to raise the cost.

There are other costs to take into consideration that go beyond health. For example, early death due to cigarettes causes an employee’s company to lose manpower, the costs of cleaning up cigarette butts and packaging, putting out fires caused by cigarettes, the loss of time (including in hospitals) of the extra breaks that smokers typically take, not to mention the lost time when people get ill as a result of smoking-related illnesses. When you add up all the costs of smoking, you find that it comes to around £14 billion, according to Policy Exchange.

Addiction

Tobacco UK

image via ECigarette Reviewed

The final point I want to make relates to the addictive nature of tobacco (or more accurately: nicotine). I discussed earlier that the ABC system for drug classification ignores the addictiveness of drugs and instead focuses on a more arbitrary approach based on the opinions of people who aren’t carrying out any significant research on the matter.

Most smokers would like to quit, yet only around 6% of smokers are able to quit each year. On top of that, it takes most smokers multiple attempts to successfully quit, if at all. Cigarettes contain a number of different chemicals that a person can become addicted to, but the main one is a result of the nicotine and its effect on dopamine, which ultimately results in the rewiring of neural pathways until what we consider to be addiction kicks in.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, withdrawal symptoms for nicotine can include:

 “…irritability, craving, depression, anxiety, cognitive and attention deficits, sleep disturbances, and increased appetite. These withdrawal symptoms may begin within a few hours after the last cigarette, quickly driving people back to tobacco use…withdrawal symptoms peak within the first few days of the last cigarette smoked and usually subside within a few weeks. For some people, however, symptoms may persist for months”

When it comes to addiction, it’s difficult to compare one drug to another. One study from the 1990s by Henningfield and Benowitz used a set criterion for determining addiction (which included aspects such as withdrawal, tolerance, dependence, and intoxication) to rank the most addictive drugs. When it comes to withdrawal, nicotine was tied in 3rd place with cocaine, beaten only by heroin (number 2) and alcohol (number 1). Nicotine ranked first for dependence and 2nd for tolerance.

Results from more recent versions of this study support its conclusions. Other sources place nicotine as the 5th most addictive substance on the Earth, behind barbiturates, cocaine, alcohol, and heroin. The New York Times even wrote an article in 1987 about nicotine being harder to quit that heroin.

In Conclusion

Tobacco UK

image via The Truth Revolution

We often hear that you can’t compare one drug to another, which is arguably true as each drug varies from another in a number of ways. Cannabis is a class B drug in the UK which can land you up to 5 years, an unlimited fine, or both, for possession, and up to 14 years, an unlimited fine, or both, for supply/production. Could we compare it to tobacco? In several ways, yes. One causes undeniable mental and physical health issues which leads to thousands upon thousands of deaths every single year (including newborns and children). One costs the government and taxpayer and estimated £14 billion per year, which it doesn’t cover with the £12 billion in returns in tax. And one is legal and readily available in most shops to anyone over the age of 18. The other is cannabis!

The continued outlawing of marijuana and its consumers is largely a result of the government’s failed “war on drugs”. News articles use intimidating and misleading headlines to scare the populous into believing that cannabis causes mental illness (when using correlation as a justification for concluded causation) and yet ignore the far more relevant and blatantly obvious connection between tobacco, mental and physical illness, and ultimately death.

I can see no real justification for the continued legalization of this substance while still outlawing recreation marijuana use. Tobacco is addictive beyond measure, it’s harmful beyond what could ever be justified, and it costs more money to the government and the country than it makes. If life, health, and money are all being neglected for the sake of keeping a harmful substance legal, then what possible precedent could any government have for outlawing other, less harmful substances?


Thanks for reading! What are you thoughts on the legality of tobacco, particularly when compared to marijuana? Let me know down below! 

Don’t forget to follow me on here and on Twitter to stay up to date with my posts!

If you have anything to add or perhaps a suggestion for a future post, leave a comment!

Peace!

The Umbrella Academy: A Review!

The Umbrella Academy is the latest attempt by Netflix is make its mark on the superhero genre. Having been adapted from graphic novels, Umbrella Academy is a dark, yet comical spoof/twist of the more popular superhero stories. If I told you about a creepy, rich, and eccentric old man who collects children with superpowers, you might think of Prof Charles Xavier, but in this case, you would be wrong.

Whether you’ve seen Umbrella Academy yet or haven’t even heard of it, this review will contain a spoiler-free and a spoiler-full section, so you don’t need to worry about the show being ruined. Let’s dive right in!

Spoiler-Free

The Umbrella Academy

image via AltPress

One of the major selling points of The Umbrella Academy is undoubtedly the cast. Many of the characters are blatant caricatures of common superhero tropes e.g. the big tough guy who is essentially a naïve and stunted man-child with the emotional understanding of a toothbrush. At first, this gives them the appearance of ‘just another superhero show’ with little to no imagination. As the story progresses, we get to see each and every character develop, and the actors do a tremendous job of showing this evolution.

I have to raise my hand in salute to Aidan Gallagher who plays number 5. I think he’s only 15, but his acting ability is just incredible. Some may disagree with me, but I view him as the star of the show. Others are great as well: Robert Sheehan, who plays Klaus, is always fun to watch. If you’ve ever seen Misfits, which I believe is also on Netflix now but originated on the UK’s Channel 4, then you’re basically watching Nathan with an American accent. The rest of the cast includes Tom Hopper, David Castandea, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Mary J. Blige, Adam Godley, Colm Feore, and Cameron Britton.

The only actor I really had an issue with is Ellen Page. She stars as number 7 A.K.A. Vanya. It’s hard to tell whether it was Page’s acting or the character herself that I’m not really a fan of. I’ve never been a huge fan of her work, even in similar roles such as Kitty Price in the X-Men franchise.

The plot is weird, but in a good way. There are twists and turns here and there to keep you on your toes, and random moments of comedy hidden away within intense fight scenes work incredibly well. I found myself on the edge of my seat while also laughing out loud on a number of occasions. The show doesn’t take itself seriously at all, but that’s something we need. It’s got a sort of Deadpool vibe to it, but in a more successful way. Each episode is jammed full of goofiness, emotion, science fiction, intensity, and a range of other words that people would use to describe a dark, but funny superhero show.

My advice would be to give it at least 2 episodes. The first episode doesn’t do a great job of represting the rest of the season.

Spoiler-Full

The Umbrella Academy

image via WhatCulture

It’s difficult to discuss The Umbrella Academy without mentioning any spoilers as some of the content is just too good to not discuss. Don’t read any further if you haven’t watched the show yet, it will ruin the experience.

Number 5

The Umbrella Academy

image via The Express

I already mentioned this in the ‘spoiler-free’ section, but I need to bring it up again. Aidan Gallagher’s performance in The Umbrella Academy is just incredible. As you’ll be aware, number 5 accidentally travels to the future where he discovers that the world has ended. The problem is, he can’t travel back. He ends up trapped there for 30-odd years (I believe), until he is recruited by an agency that works to keep things “according to plan” and uninterrupted by time travelling beings.

When we first see number 5 in the present day, he has just travelled back after deciding not to assassinate JFK. The gun he leaves in the past is a rather funny nod to the “conspiracy theory” that there was a 2nd shooter. Yet the amazing thing about 5 is that he’s an older man trapped in a child’s body. This is something I totally believed, thanks to Gallagher’s performance. The way he talks about theories, physics, time-travel, and just his general attitude towards the petty troubles of his family really came across as maturity and immaturity combine within one man/boy.

Klaus

The Umbrella Academy

image via Uproxx

Of course, when we’re talking about interesting characters, it’s impossible not to mention Klaus, played by Robert Sheehan. At the start of The Umbrella Academy, I felt that Klaus was just going to be an American Nathan (Misfits), and in many ways he is. His “fuck it” attitude to life and those around him is incredibly comical within such a show. His need to be high all the time just seems like the attitude of a junkie, and when you learn that his power involves communicating with the dead, you sort of understand what led him down that path.

However, the truth of Klaus’s backstory is much, much darker. I mean Jesus Fucking Christ! To start with, you learn that his dad used to lock him in mortuaries for hours at a time, with no light, no food, and no way out. Klaus would have spirits screaming at him: white eyed, pale faced, and creepy as fuck! This is when he was just a child as well. We get brief glimpses of this whenever he starts to sober up.

However, after being kidnapped by Hazel and Cha-Cha, where ‘s tortured and eventually learns to talk to spirits in a manner that benefits both them and him, Klaus’s story takes a crazy turn. He accidentally travels to the 60s and ends up fighting in the Vietnam war for a year. Here, he falls in love, and watches his partner get shot in the chest and die, right in front of him. The way this sub-plot unfolded was brutal, and you really began to feel that Klaus has every right to be completely fucked up. I mean all of the kids do, but him especially.

The Plot

The Umbrella Academy

image via The Express

I’m not going to talk too much about the plot. You’ve seen it, I’ve seen it, so what would be the point? What I will say, is that while being somewhat predictable and a little cliched, The Umbrella Academy manages to keep you entertained and intrigued. I said from episode 1 that Vanya would have stupidly crazy power and would be the one to destroy the world. That doesn’t make the journey to that point any less interesting.

The use of time travel in order to mix things up works really well. We get to see certain characters make crazy discoveries or developments, only for it all to be undone by the time-travelling number 5. This is an element that I hope they use in the next season, which I’m 100% sure they’ll greenlight any day now.

There are some super whacky moments within the show that sometimes feel a bit misplaced, but actually work to break the tension up a bit. For example, when Hazel and Cha-Cha accidentally eat Klaus’s weed chocolate, they end up burning down a building while dancing to music. It’s absolutely ridiculous but you just laugh and say, “what the fuck?”

As I already mentioned, The Umbrella Academy doens’t take itself too seriously. We never question how Luthor (Tom Hooper) gets to the moon or survives there for 4 years. There’s a whole alien scene that is completely glossed over without any real explanation. Not to mention why “The Handler” (played by Kate Walsh) doesn’t use her time-stopping power, which in itself isn’t really explained, to simply take what she wants. The last one might be understandable since she does constantly talk about how all the cogs in the machine serve a purpose. Anyway, these “issues” aren’t really issues, they are just moments that the show doesn’t focus on. If it tried to explain everything, it would get over-complicated.

Criticisms

The Umbrella Academy

image via Variety

I do have the odd criticism here and there. The Umbrella Academy, in many ways, is a spoof of the superhero genre. Think of moments in Deadpool where he just makes fun of the clichés that happen in every superhero movie. The Umbrella Academy is sort of like that. Most of the time, they are funny, but some of the jokes are just a bit much.

Take Luther and Diego (David Castaneda) for example. They are both just examples of your typical superhero characters. Luther is the big brute whose sole purpose is to save the world. It’s his duty and gets priority above all else. He doesn’t live his life, he doesn’t grow up, and he can’t handle the idea that his “purpose” isn’t really his purpose. Diego is just the hot-headed vigilante who doesn’t play by the rules. Both are ultimately just testosterone-fuelled idiots who let their ego make most of their decisions. Sometimes this is funny, but when it ties in with the main plot too often, I found it a little dull.

Other than that, my only criticism is that season 2 isn’t already released and ready for me to watch!


Thanks for reading! What are you thoughts on The Umbrella Academy? Let me know down below! 

Don’t forget to follow me on here and on Twitter to stay up to date with my posts!

If you have anything to add or perhaps a suggestion for a future post, leave a comment!

Peace!

Get your Politics Out of My Movies!

When I’d originally started this post, it was titled ‘Ghostbusters 3 is NOT a Feminist Issue!’ I was simply going to discuss why forcing politics of any kind onto a movie (when the movie itself isn’t political) doesn’t do anyone any favours: fanbase and creators included. However, I rather unfortunately found that one my favourite movie franchises has been invaded by the same political self-righteousness. So, I’ve been forced to tackle the entire reason that politics and movies shouldn’t be forced together. I’m going to start with Ghostbusters 3 and then go on to discuss Captain Marvel and the future of the MCU.

Back to Sequels and Reboots

Ghostbusters 3 and Captain Marvel

image via Science Fiction

I’m sick to death of having to discuss sequels and reboots. However, with Ghostbuster 3 being announced, I have to revisit the topic. I’ve said it once, but I’ll say it again: Ghostbusters should never have become political. Out of all the movies that have ever been made, why would anyone pick Ghostbusters as the target of anti-male propaganda? I’ve written on this topic rather extensively (unfortunately). So, if you want to know my opinions on the Ghostbusters reboot both before and after its release, then by all means click on the corresponding links. I wouldn’t encourage it though. This topic is already saturated beyond belief.

So, what has sparked me to write, once again, about the political issues surrounding the Ghostbusters franchise? Well, with the release of Ghostbusters 3 being announced, certain individuals feel that the movie carries anti-women sentiments, which is hilarious given how blatantly anti-male publicity was for the reboot. I’m going to summarise the issue before sharing my own view on the matter.

To cut a long story short: Ghostbusters is NOT a feminist issue. It never should have been in the first place, but it certainly isn’t now that we’ve moved away from the disgraceful 2016 reboot.

Ghostbusters (2016)

Ghostbusters 3 and Captain Marvel

image via Forbes

For any of you confused by the Ghostbusters franchise, here is a brief history: In 1984, the first Ghostbusters movie was released. In 1989, a sequel (imaginatively titled “Ghostbusters II) was released. In 2016, some genius decided to reboot the franchise. This reboot takes place in a separate universe from the originals i.e. the events of the original movies didn’t take place within the 2016 movie universe (that will be important in a moment). In 2020, a sequel to the second Ghostbusters movie (1989) will be released, likely starring most of the original cast and following on from the original stories. It’s likely to be a “passing of the torch” movie and will apparently star 2 males and 2 females as the new, young leads.

So, this brings us to Leslie Jones who starred in the 2016 reboot as Patty Tolan. Mrs Jones is apparently outraged and recently tweeted the following:

Ghostbuster-Reboot-Leslie-Jones-Reaction.jpg

For starters, why bring Trump into this? Suddenly, making a sequel (which as I’ve mentioned will have a 50/50 gender split anyway) to a movie about 4 men a “Trump move”? I understand that she’s trying to label the move sexist, but that brings us to our next issue. Why is it a “dick move” to make a sequel but it’s not a dick move to reboot the franchise, switch the gender of every character, and turn the movie into nothing more than a punch in the balls (quite literally, if you’ve seen the reboot)? Surely if anyone made a “dick move” it’s the people behind the all-female reboot, right?

Another aspect of Jones’ Tweet relates to the reboot not counting. She says, “We dint count”. Well, did the original cast not count when you made the 2016 movie? Secondly, the reboot was an absolute flop. You can attribute that to sexist white male misogynists if you like, but the truth of the matter is that the movie lost something like $70 million. Why the fuck would any sane person drag that shit show back for round 2? If you remove yourself from the original franchise, you can’t then be angry when the original franchise continues without you.

Ultimately…

Ghostbusters 3 and Captain Marvel

image via YouTube

What this all boils down to is nonsensical political outrage. These days, people will grasp hold of anything that allows them to feel and share outrage, at anyone, anything, or anywhere. It is a trend that is spreading like wildfire.

When researching aspects of this post, I ended up on the most weighted ScreenRant article ever, which opened with: “Ghostbusters: “Leslie Jones Is (Understandably) Mad There’s a New Reboot”, before going on to state “However, the 2016 reboot was plagued all through its production and marketing by certain folks who weren’t happy with a Ghostbusters movie starring all women.”

This sort of writing annoys me because the hate towards the reboot was NOT because it was an all-female cast. That was an aspect, a very minor aspect, but it wasn’t the fact that the cast was female, it was the fact that A) The movie was anti-male, B) The movie claimed to be some sort of feminist breakthrough and marketed itself as such, and C) Even from the trailers, it was clear that the movie was not going to do the originals justice. I can’t say this enough but Annihilation is one of my favourite movies to have come out in the last few years and it has an all-female cast. Yet people like Leslie Jones and others never raise that example when holding white men responsible for their piece of shit movies flopping!

Ghostbusters 3

Ghostbusters 3 and Captain Marvel

image via Geek Tyrant

When it comes to Ghostbusters 3, what are my thoughts? Well, I think it’s a mistake. But I think it’s a better idea that a reboot. Why? When it comes to reboots, particularly when handled like Ghostbusters, you essentially scrap the original story and replace it with a modern take. People don’t like to watch their favourite movies being recycled to suit a modern audience. Having recently re-watched the original Ghostbusters, Bill Murray portrays an incredibly sexist and inappropriate Dr Venkman. Men don’t watch that nowadays and think to themselves “ahhhh, so THAT’S how you get the woman!” Regardless, if you released a movie that glorified and laughed at such behaviour nowadays, it would be slated by certain groups.

Sequels can encounter a similar problem, but this usually relates to continuity. If you look at Star Wars or Jurassic World, the biggest issues they faced involved remaining true to the original movies. Another example would be Jumanji. Welcome to the Jungle is sort of a sequel and a reboot, but it manages to make the movie different enough that you don’t really compare it to the original, but it isn’t so different that you don’t feel a connection between the two.

I’d love to see the original Ghostbusters cast back on the big-screen, but unless the can find the right balance between the original and modern-day movies, then it’s going to fail.

Captain Marvel and Brie Larson

Ghostbusters 3 and Captain Marvel

image via Adventures in Poor Taste

Sadly, this bring me to Marvel. If you’ve read any of my other posts, you’ll find that I’ve written about Marvel more than anything else. I love discussing my hopes and concerns, my theories, and many other topics.

Prior to the release of the Captain Marvel trailer, I wasn’t that excited for the movie. Not because it’s a female character, not because I’m a sexist, misogynistic, pro-Trump, anti-LGBT demon, but simply because I don’t know the character. I wasn’t excited for many other MCU movies and ended up loving them e.g. Winter Soldier and Black Panther. Similarly, I was excited for other MCU movies and ended up having my expectations crushed e.g. Doctor Strange and Age of Ultron.

However, when the trailer was released, I found myself feeling more excited. The Skrull concept and being able to see a young Nick Fury in action seemed compelling. Not to mention that I’ve enjoyed Brie Larson in other movies, so I’ve always looked forward to seeing her performance within the MCU, even if I wasn’t all that excited about the movie itself.

Fuck the Fans!

Ghostbusters and Captain Marvel

image via YouTube

Fuck…I can’t even bring myself to write about this nonsense. So, Brie Larson made a speech at the Crystal + Lucy Awards. To sum it up: “if you’re a white male and like Marvel movies but don’t enjoy Captain Marvel, then fuck you!” Larson displayed a complete lack of understanding for how the world works. Apparently, the fact that 60% of movie reviewers are white males is evidence of the patriarchy controlling and manipulating female-led films to fail. Larson’s solution? Equality of outcome: she wants to force non-white movie reviewers into the review role, along with more white females, in order to balance things out.

This, of course, ignores the fact that ANYONE can review movies. Want to write a blog about movies? WordPress is free and easy to use. I happen to write reviews for my own blog and MovieBabble, a movie review site that takes on anyone who loves to write about movies. ANYONE can start a YouTube account and review movies, it’s free and easy to do. ANYONE can review on IMDB or Rotten Tomatoes, both of which are frequently referenced by people such as Mindy Kailing, Brie Larson, and others.

I’m not sure what percentage of MCU fans are white males, but I’d imagine that it’s a majority or at least close to it. According to one website, a survey carried out in 2018 found that males make up the majority of MCU viewers within the US. Now, it’s one thing to call out to fans of different demographics. If Larson has said “we need more women in these roles” or “we need more women to watch these movies” then there wouldn’t be an issue but saying that white male critics can essentially go fuck themselves, just alienates a large percentage of MCU fans who have enjoyed the franchise for A FUCKING DECADE prior to Larson’s appearance.

Is it really any surprise that the projected box office figures for Captain Marvel have already by dropped below 50% since the initial projections? People don’t want their favourite franchises (i.e. the MCU) being combined with the individual political ideological ramblings of one ill-informed individual (i.e. Brie Larson).

There is always a backlash to stuff like this, and we’re seeing it with Captain Marvel. According to Complex, “Misogynists Swarming ‘Captain Marvel’ on Rotten Tomatoes Weeks Before Release”. Of course, as is usually the case with instances such as this, they are ignoring the real issue. This has NOTHING to do with the fact that Captain Marvel is a female. It has EVERYTHING to do with Brie Larson launching an attack against fans.

Black Panther

Ghostbusters 3 and Captain Marvel

image via Marvel

There is a right way to bring politics into a movie, and it isn’t by alienating other demographics. Let’s consider Black Panther. This is a movie that had an almost entirely black cast, and as such it was hailed as being a step in the right direction for the representation of minorities within Hollywood movies.

On the run up to its release, I didn’t once see Chadwick Boseman or Michael B. Jordan stepping up to a mic to say “listen, if this film doesn’t do well, then it’s white people who are to blame”. The movie itself even tackled race issues within the world, but it did so in a manner that wasn’t just sticking a middle finger up at other groups and actually made sense within the movie’s storyline.

I’m not petty enough to not see a movie based on the actions of one member of the cast, but I’d imagine that there are people out there who are. Larson is a classic example of a social justice hypocrite. Does Larson really believe that decade-long fans of the MCU are going to hate a movie purely because the lead is a strong female character? The only reason I will hate Captain Marvel, is if it’s a shit movie. If it IS a shit movie, I’m still going to watch Endgame and Far From Home and other MCU movies!

My MCU Prediction

Ghostbusters 3 and Captain Marvel

image via YouTube

I’m almost done ranting, but I just want to touch on one issue that I can see happening over the next few years. Endgame, which will be the movie to follow Captain Marvel, marks the end of the road for many character arcs. Tony Stark, Iron-Man, Thor, and others may not die, but they won’t be returning in the same capacity after this movie. Here lies my worry: Fans have spent 10 years following these characters: we’ve watched them evolve, face increasingly-difficult challenges, and we’ll see them leave. For many, Endgame will mark the end of a story rather than the end of a chapter.

How will the MCU group the remaining heroes together? Will there be an Avengers 5? In my opinion, Endgame should be the last Avengers movie. Let’s face it, the Guardians won’t be returning for a 5th Avengers movie. So, the next group movie should be different, and it should be new, otherwise, people will get very bored very fast! We can’t just see all available MCU heroes regroup every 3 years, particularly when the MVPs will be gone. Why is this a problem?

Well, as we’ve seen with Ghostbusters, Ocean’s 8, the wage gap, and other such movies/ideas, people have a tendency to focus on a connection while ignoring all other factors. You didn’t like Ghostbusters? Well, you must be a female-hating Trump supporter because there’s NO way you just didn’t like the shitty reboot and its horrifically matched cast and slanted political agenda!

When we say goodbye to Tony Stark, Thor, Loki, Steve Rodgers, Bucky, and maybe more (or maybe less, I’m not sure how many actors will step down after Endgame), the viewings of MCU movies is undoubtedly going to take a knock. My worry is that people will blame this on women-hating racists, rather than exploring the real reasons. Then, the MCU will become more politicized and ultimately destroyed.

In Summary

Ghostbusters 3 and Captain Marvel

image via Stream Play TV

In my opinion, there shouldn’t have been a Ghostbusters reboot in the first place! I’m all for a sequel, provided it isn’t just a reboot disguised as a sequel, but rebooting any classic typically fails to do it justice. Look at Jumanji: the reboot/sequel was entertaining, but it just wasn’t the same as the original. Too many things change over the course of several decades and so its impossible to capture the original movies. For example, Jurassic Park, Star Wars, Blade Runner, and of course Ghostbusters.

Global politics have changed, societal attitudes and perceptions have changed, actors have died, and a million other variables can be considered as to why making a reboot/sequel to classic movies a couple of decades after the originals will never work. Do you think a Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, or Fight Club would succeed if rebooted within the next couple of decades? These aren’t even good examples and they still don’t work!

When it comes to movies that are changing within our modern society, we have to remember that people aren’t watching these movies to support a political agenda. I watch Marvel movies because I love the characters and losing myself in a universe where people with superpowers exist is entertaining. I don’t watch the movies because I want to support Brie Larson’s incoherent babblings!


Thanks for reading! What are you thoughts? Is Brie Larson forcing her political views into the MCU? Is it unreasonable to do a Ghostbusters 3? Let me know down below! 

Don’t forget to follow me on here and on Twitter to stay up to date with my posts!

If you have anything to add or perhaps a suggestion for a future post, leave a comment!

Peace!

 

Atlantis: Myth, History, or Both?

Atlantis: myth or history? Growing up, I believed that Atlantis was entirely mythological and held no place in history. As a child, I loved the Disney movie ‘Atlantis’ which explored the Ancient City with its advanced knowledge and wisdom that was lost after a disaster. As it happens, I seem to have been drawn to this idea of an advanced civilisation that was lost, either to a natural or man-made disaster. Assassin’s Creed would be one example of such a storyline. Graham Hancock’s work would be an example of something more academic.

But today I’m going to explore the idea that Atlantis not only existed, but its footprint can still be seen today. Whenever I’m drawing from someone else’s research, I will provide a link to the source.

What is Atlantis?

Atlantis Richat Structure

image via Science Rumors

It’s possible, all be it unlikely, that you haven’t even heard of Atlantis. The origins from the story of the Ancient City are often traced back to Plato’s dialogues: ‘Timaeus and Critias’, which were published around 360BCE.

“Now in this island of Atlantis there existed a confederation of kings, of great and marvelous power, which held sway over all the island, and over many other islands also and parts of the continent…”

“…Fifty stadia (6 miles/9km) from the coast was a mountain that was low on all sides…the central island itself was five stadia in diameter (0.57miles/0.92km).”

“But afterwards there occurred violent earthquakes and floods; and in a single day and night of misfortune all your warlike men in a body sank into the earth, and the island of Atlantis in like manner disappeared in the depths of the sea. For which reason the sea in those parts is impassable and impenetrable, because there is a shoal of mud in the way; and this was caused by the subsidence of the island.”

Solon and Egypt

Atlantis Richat Structure

image via The Famous People

It is possible that Atlantis is entirely fictional, meant only as an allegory for the stories of Plato. In Timaeus, a few passages stand out as being relevant to what I’m going to discuss:

“…if Solon had only…completed the tale which he brought with him from Egypt…”

“I have told you briefly, Socrates, what the aged Critias heard from Solon and related to us.”

“And whatever happened…they have all been written down by us of old, and are preserved in our temples. Whereas just when you and other nations are beginning to be provided with letters and the other requisites of civilized life, after the usual interval, the stream from heaven, like a pestilence, comes pouring down, and leaves only those of you who are destitute of letters and education; and so you have to begin all over again like children, and know nothing of what happened in ancient times, either among us or among yourselves.” (1)

Arguably, this is simply a part of the narrative that Plato was creating, but we must consider Solon if we are to explore the origins of the Atlantis legend further. Solon was an Athenian statesman and poet who was born in 636BCE and died in 558BCE. According to Herodotus (484BCE-425BCE), a historian, Solon travelled to Egypt (2). As we’ll soon see, this journey fits in with Plato’s tales.

It is said that during his time in Egypt, he visited with Pharaohs and priests, learning their history and philosophy. According to Plutarch, who was a much later biographer/historian, Solon visited with two priests in particular: Sonchis of Sais and Psenophis of Heliopolis (3). Seis is an Ancient Egyptian town that no longer exists, with very little trace remaining. Why is it important?

Seis, Egypt

Atlantis Richat Structure

image via Jean CLaude Golvin

The Goddess of Seis was Neith. There is a connection here that I am willing to chalk up to coincidence, however, I still find it interesting. The Goddess Neith was believed to appear in many forms, but one of her most common non-human depictions is as a cow, connecting her to Hathor or Mehet Weret whose name literally means “Great Flood” (4). The importance of a flood within the story of Atlantis will become clear later.

The worship of Neith dates as far back as the Pre-Dynastic Period of Egypt (6000-3150BCE) and it is said that Sais was the ancient birthplace of the cult of Neith which allegedly dates back as far as the First Dynasty of Egypt (3100-3050), with Sais being officially formed in around 3000BCE (5).

Interestingly, Diodorus, Plato, and Herodotus all compared the Goddess Neith to Athena. Diodorus even connected Sais to Athena in another way: stating that while all Greek cities were destroyed during a great flood, Egyptian cities such as Sais survived.

Unfortunately, no traces of the town’s ancient routes from before 1100BCE have survived. This is due to the farmers recycling materials: anything that wasn’t currently serving a function was demolished and used.

Back to Atlantis

Atlantis Richat Structure

image via Ancient Patriarchs

So, now that we have an idea of the origins of Atlantis, we can get back on track to exploring whether it exists. Plato stated that Atlantis existed 9,000 years before his time, so about 11,500 years before now. This just so happens to put Atlantis and its potential destruction at the end of the last Ice Age, which ended very rapidly and led to global flooding, possibly due to the Younger Dryas impact hypothesis.

This hypothesis proposes that one or several asteroids impacted or burst within the Earth’s atmosphere between 12,500 and 11,500 years ago. The idea was dismissed due to the lack of an impact crater, something that has only recently been discovered under the ice of Greenland.

Atlantis translates from Ancient Greek as ‘island of Atlas’, referring of course to the God of the same name. The Ancient Greeks believed that Atlas had been condemned by Zeus to stand at the Western edge of the world (6).

Why is this relevant? Well, we must consider what the edge of the world was to the Ancient Greeks. I’m going to be referencing several maps throughout this article, the first of which is by Herodotus. First, let’s recall a passage from Timaeus:
“…and there was an island situated in front of the straits which are by you called the Pillars of Heracles…”

b9ba39fc182a170ccffbd0594164ec89

image via Pinterest

As you can see on this map, the Atlas Mountains (M. Atlas) stretch across Northwest Africa. This map is from 450BCE and represents the known world according to Herodotus. You will see that just below the Pillars of Heracles (between Spain and Africa) are the Atlas Mountains, and below that sits ‘Atlantes’.

This could reference the name for the top part of the river, but as this is the Nile (named Nilus on this map), it could also be the name of the area or people, much in the same way that ‘Garamantes’ is used on this map to describe a “very great nation”.

Just to demonstrate the timeline here: Solon visited Egypt prior to 558BCE, this map was created in 450BCE, and Plato didn’t publish any mention of Atlantis until 360BCE.

Exploring Maps

Atlantis Richat Structure

image via Ordnance Survey

The location of Atlantes/Atlantis, as described by Herodotus on his map, is important when we consider maps that appear much later in time. There are two in particular that I’d like to explore: The World Map by al-Idrisi (1154CE) and The Piri Reis map (1513CE).

The map created by Muhammad al-Idrisi (sometimes spelt as al-Edrisi), known as the ‘Tabula Rogeriana’, is considered the most accurate map of the world to have existed within medieval times (7). Al-Idrisi compiled a collection of maps from those brought by Norman voyagers, as well as those held in Sicily, in order to create his version.

tabularogeriana_upside-down

image via Alrahalah

Above is a picture of the full map, but below is a zoomed in aspect with a rather bizarre detail. Keep in mind that Herodotus described Atlantes as being south of the Atlas Mountains.

capture2

image via Alrahalah

Another interesting map was made much later, in 1513. Similarly to the al-Idrisi map, the Piri Reis map was created using a number of other maps, somewhere between 20 and 34. He used Ptolemaic maps, the Arabic map, 4 maps from Portugal, and even the map created by Christopher Columbus. It’s also believed that Piri Reis used maps that had been moved to Constantinople from the Library of Alexandria centuries earlier. These ancient maps have led many to believe that Antarctica had been explored long before originally believed.

pirireis

image via Ancient Origins

As you can see, this map shows parts of Europe, Africa, and South America, as well as Antarctica. The general accuracy of these maps has been confirmed in the modern day. If we zoom in, we can find one area of great interest: you’ll notice it circle in red. A city surrounded by water.

InkedPiri_reis_world_map-e1379556898352_LI.jpg

image via Ancient Origins

Eye of the Sahara

Atlantis Richat Structure

image via Intrepid Travel

So, what does all this mean? Well, it suggests the location of Atlantis and explores the origins of the legend, offering a possible explanation for why it hasn’t been discovered: it has long since been destroyed. As such, it would appear on earlier maps (such as those used by al-Idrisi and Piri Reis), either as a ruin or possible even a city that was rebuilt on the ruins of what was once Atlantis.

Atlantis Richat Structure

image via Google Maps

So here you can see the same rough area that I’ve pointed to on the other maps. I’ve just taken screenshots from Google Maps and so I can only apologise for the unprofessional appearance of these. If we switch to the satellite view, you will get a better idea of what I’m talking about and why I’m referencing Google Maps.

Atlantis Richat Structure

image via Google Maps

If you look from the upper right corner of the image, through Mauritania, and down to Noukchott, you can see that the sand appears to have been swept away, almost as if a large body of water was either permanently or temporarily flowing over the land. However, there is another detail here that is of much higher importance: notice the circular disk just above the ‘Ma’ in ‘Mauritania’?

Let’s take a closer look!

capture5

image via Google Maps

The Richat Structure

The Richat Structure, which also goes by the name ‘Eye of the Sahara’, Eye of Africa’, and ‘Guelb er Richát’, is described as a geological formation that has existed since before the emergence of homo sapiens. The structure is essentially on a dome of magma which is causing it to be pushed upwards in a similar manner to what is currently happening with Antarctica.

So far, no major archaeological digs have taken place in or around the structure, but some smaller digs have unearthed many Acheulean artefacts. This is the term given to the manufacture of stone tools by a typically non-homosapien species such as homo erectus. There have also been fish skeletons and even whale bones discovered, which means that water flowed over this area recently enough for these remains to not have fossilized.

However, while searching around the area on Google Maps, I did notice something. This was already mentioned by BrightInsight, whose videos on this topic are deeply informative (he connected almost all of these dots), but I happened to stumble across it thanks to somebody marking it as “unknown structure”.

capture6

image via Google Maps

I can only imagine (without any knowledge of archaeology) that this structure is modern, certainly within the last 1,000 years. But I’m not basing that on anything. So, if this is the location of Atlantis then why aren’t there more buildings or structures? If we assume that Atlantis was washed away by a flood or destroyed by an earthquake, these are only minor details when compared to the fact that it would have existed 11,500 years ago.

To put it in perspective, if humanity died out today, it is estimated that the Hoover Dam would be one of the longest lasting structures. Estimates put its lifespan at around 10,000 years (although its turbines would stop after just two years) (8). But how long would it last if an earthquake brought the structure to the ground or an immense flood caused it to crumble?

It’s likely that given the various levels within the Richat structure, that it would have formed natural rings of water and land. This could easily have been adapted to become a city for a civilisation.

In Summary

Atlantis Richat Structure

image via Letter Box D

So, do I believe that Atlantis was in this location? Did it exist at all? Frustratingly, we’ll probably never know. I think that the body of evidence that suggests that early humans are not exactly how we once believed them to be is expanding every day. We’re learning more about our past and one day we might have a much clearer idea.

For now, I think that it’s certainly something interesting and fun to consider and explore. I think that the worst thing we can do, is turn down an idea before exploring it simply because we’ve been led to believe that the notion is ridiculous. Was Atlantis a civilisaiton that powered flying vehicles with crystals like in the Disney movie? I highly doubt it! Does that mean we should rule out its existence entirely? Absolutely not!

Wouldn’t it make a lot of sense if Atlantis was an advanced civilisation of some description that allowed smart minds to grow and prosper? After all, the Ancient Egyptians seemed to have access to some sort of technology that we don’t fully understand. The Pyramids of Giza certainly weren’t tombs and we don’t even know exactly when they and the Sphinx were built. Maybe a group of survivors of the Great Flood passed this information and knowledge on, leading to some of the flood myths that exist around the world, varying from culture to culture.


Thanks for reading! Do you believe that Atlantis could have existed? Could it have been in Africa all along? Let me know down below! 

Don’t forget to follow me on here and on Twitter to stay up to date with my posts!

If you have anything to add or perhaps a suggestion for a future post, leave a comment!

Peace!


1) http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/timaeus.html
2) http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0126%3Abook%3D1%3Achapter%3D30
3) http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Plutarch/Lives/Solon*.html
4) https://www.ancient.eu/Neith/
5) https://www.ancient-origins.net/ancient-places-africa/pharaonic-royal-city-sais-leaves-few-clues-researchers-002352
6) https://greekgodsandgoddesses.net/gods/atlas/
7) https://archive.org/stream/historyofmoorish03scotuoft#page/461/mode/1up
8) https://delzottoproducts.com/2017/03/15/long-will-take-concrete-hoover-dam-cure/

Glass: A Review

So, I went to see Glass recently and, in all honesty, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. When a movie like this comes out, especially with M. Night Shyamalan at the helm, pretty much anything could happen. Unbreakable was a decent enough movie, Split was better (in my mind), and so Glass could very well have been the cherry on top of the cake, or a soulless cash grab. I’m going to start off with a spoiler-free review, followed by a spoiler-ridden review. So, if you haven’t seen Glass yet, you can still get an idea of what it’s like.

Spoiler-Free Review

Glass Review

image via The Sun

So, what can I say about Glass without spoiling anything? Well, unlike many sequels that have brought back characters from decade-old movies, Glass does an excellent job of not making it feel forced. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about Jurassic World, Ghostbusters, Star Wars, or Blade Runner, most movies have to shove the old characters down your throat, usually through some ridiculous situation that leads to them appearing. There is no heart!

Glass has heart and stays true to all the characters we’ve been introduced to in previous movies: David Dunn (Bruce Willis) and his son have the sort of relationship you would expect. You don’t feel like you’re watching some silly comic book movie, as for the most part, Glass feels semi-realistic. You find yourself imagining this world and concluding that this is how these characters would behave. David Dunn isn’t as young as he once was, something that the movie plays on.

Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson) grew up relying on his mother and having been “defeated” by David Dunn in Unbreakable, the situation we find him in is completely expected. I enjoyed seeing the character on the screen again and seeing his mind at work was one of the excellent aspects of Glass.

Keven Wendell Crumb may have only joined us in Split, but James McAvoy shows us once again that his acting ability is incredible. I worried that they’d tone the character(s) down a bit for Glass, but the exact opposite was true. I felt like the movie offered us a deeper insight into the life and mind of not just Kevin, but actually all of the main characters.

Ultimately, I enjoyed the fact that Glass managed to be a cliched comic book movie without feeling like it was part of the same franchise as Marvel or DC. I didn’t feel like I was watching a movie that I’d already watched a thousand times (which is saying something since I actually love Marvel and Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy).

Spoiler-Full Review

Glass Review

image via Pop Culture

OK, so you’ve been warned. From this point on I am going to be sharing my views on almost exclusively spoilers.

For a large part of this movie, I was worried. In the back of my mind (and actually what I’d mentioned in an article I wrote for a different site) I knew that with this being an M. Night Shyamalan movie, there was no way that Glass would end in the manner you’d expect.

I would like to personally thank M. Night Shyamalan for not being afraid to take an unorthodox approach to his ending (perhaps something that can always be said about him). I’ve longed for a superhero movie that breaks free from the formula that we see 5-6 times a year from other franchises. Again, I say that as a fan of Marvel, but their movies are repetitive as fuck!

Glass spent a large section of its run-time leading us to believe that Mr. Glass and Kevin/The Beast would be teaming up to take down David Dunn in a public place. One funny thing I noticed related to the magazine that Mr. Glass had that showed the tower. On the front page it stated “A True Marvel” which is clearly a nod to Marvel and this being a true version of it. By the time audiences realize that there isn’t going to be a big boss battle at this random-ass tower (perhaps another nod to Marvel as it’s basically how Avengers Assemble ends), it’s too late. As soon as the camera pans in on that 3-leaf clover, it’s all over.

The big reveal is that DR. Ellie Staple (played by American Horror Story’s Sarah Paulson) is actually part of this ancient society that not only knows of the existence of these super-human individuals but tracks them down. If they can’t convince you that you’re “normal” then they have no choice but to kill you. This society isn’t evil by any means. As DR. Staple says to David Dunn: they were going to leave him alone because he didn’t have a nemesis to fight. It wasn’t until The Horde showed up that they realized the potential death and destruction a fight between the two could cause. This 3-leaf clover organization just wants to avoid what we see so often in superhero movies: collateral damage. Just look at Batman V Superman or Captain America: Civil War, where a similar issue is raised.

The Uniqueness of Glass

Glass Review

image via The New York Times

So, why did I enjoy Glass so much? I love the idea that people in this movie aren’t inherently evil. Nobody is a villain for the sake of being a villain and all the characters are likeable. You watch the movie kind of hoping that everyone wins. Let’s consider the main characters:

David Dunn is your typical good guy. He’s a vigilante who just wants to protect and avenge the common people. He isn’t looking for fame or glory, in fact he prefers to stick to the shadows. His backstory isn’t ridden with tragedy, but he did hit a few bumps along the way, such as nearly drowning/being drowned, crashing his car, and surviving a train crash where everybody else died.

Mr. Glass is a different story. Is he the bad guy? Of course, but consider why that’s the case. He was born with brittle bone disease and suffered frequent breaks from day-to-day tasks. He grew up living a sheltered life where his only coping strategy was comic books, which suggested to him that if he breaks easily, there must be others at the opposite end of the spectrum.

Sure, Mr. Glass crashes a train and causes a pile-up on a highway. He murders a lot of people and for that he is the villain…but he was doing it to reveal a hero, to bring a superhuman into the spotlight. His methods may have been a bit reckless, but his mission wasn’t to kill hundreds of people, it was to discover the one who survived.

Kevin Wendell Crumb is undoubtedly a victim. I don’t want to view each of his other personalities individually, although that would give the best representation of his character, but he suffered a traumatic past. As we learn in both Split and Glass, his mother abused him. She was mentally ill with DID and just as his father sought help, he died in the train crash that Mr. Glass had caused. The very same train that David Dunn survived.

Many of Kevin’s other personalities simply wanted the world to know that they exist. Even ‘The Beast’, who is certainly the villain of The Horde, has a certain sense of just purpose. Yes, he also kills people (and violently) but only because he is the product of suffering. To him, only the pure can survive and you’re only pure if you’ve suffered.

Dr. Staple and her band of not-so-merry men aren’t evil. They may seem a little twisted and it was annoying that they murdered all the main characters, but they were in the right. They simply wanted to avoid the destruction and chaos that would have inevitably been caused if The Horde and David had had a showdown that Avengers Tower, or whatever the tower was called.

In Summary

Glass Review

image via Movie Web

So, overall, I think that Glass was an incredibly refreshing take on a rather milked genre. I was incredibly happy to be able to watch a superhero movie without being able to guess how it will end. The entire cast were excellent, and I must commend M. Night Shyamalan once again for creating something that felt unique. I’m not always a fan of his twists because sometimes they are just ridiculous and unnecessary. When your gimmick is being unpredictable, you ultimately become predictable.

I had just recently watch Unbreakable and Split in preparation for this movie, but I’m already looking forward to watching all episodes of this trilogy back to back.


Thanks for reading! Have you seen Glass? What did you think? Let me know down below! 

Don’t forget to follow me on here and on Twitter to stay up to date with my posts!

If you have anything to add or perhaps a suggestion for a future post, leave a comment!

Peace!

My Hopes (and Concerns) for 2019’s MCU Movies!

With the bog-standard triple threat of MCU movies coming out this year, there is a lot to look forward to…which also means there is a lot to be concerned about. In just a few months, Captain Marvel will hit theatres, followed swiftly by Endgame, and finally: Far From Home. With the end of a 10-year story on the brink of ending, what are my thoughts on the run-up to these movies being released? Let’s take a look!

Captain Marvel

Marvel 2019

image via Geek Tyrant

With Captain Marvel due to hit theatres shortly before Endgame, I have many hopes and concerns towards Marvel’s next release. Surprisingly, my concerns aren’t so much with Captain Marvel herself but rather with Nick Fury. I mentioned in another article that Captain Marvel could be the movie that explains all of Nick Fury’s rather un-Fury-like decisions and actions during the MCU movies that follow this one (chronologically at least). I’m not going to explain it all again but click here if you’d like to read it.

Suffice to say, Winter Soldier painted a picture of a young Fury being ruthless, merciless, and ultimately ready to sacrifice whatever it takes in order to win the Endgame (roll credits…oh wait, wrong movie). I worry that Marvel are instead going to give us this sort of “cool dude” Fury. I guess I’m sort of hoping for more of a Pulp Fiction Samuel L. Jackson role, which I can’t imagine Disney would be in favour of.

I am looking forward to seeing Coulson on the big screen again though. It will be interesting to see the relationship between the two of them in the early days, prior to later interactions. Of course, I want to see Fury losing his eye…pretty grim, I know. Not only that, I want to see him losing his eye entirely because he trusted someone, just like he claimed in Winter Soldier. It could be the case that he trusts someone (maybe even Coulson) only for them to be revealed to be a skroll…but I hope that there is a deeper level of betrayal than that, perhaps a rogue Captain Marvel. There’s always the possibility that they “…I lost an eye” in Winter Soldier was entirely for effect rather than providing backstory.

Endgame

Marvel 2019

image via BGR

Endgame is only a few months away and with trailers most likely misleading us (I don’t think Tony is randomly floating through space on the brink of death), we really have no real idea of what to expect. I am happy that Marvel are revealing very little about the plot because previous movies (Thor: Ragnarok, I’m looking at you) revealed WAY too much information. I’ve already ranted about that aspect of the MCU in the past, so I won’t go into too much detail about it now.

So, what are my hopes and concerns for Endgame? Honestly, I want death…a lot of it, which I know isn’t a likely outcome of this movie. Again, this is something I’ve already gone into, all be it prior to Infinity War. So as much as I’d actually like Hawkeye (definitely him!), Thor, Iron-Man, Black Widow, and Cap to all die (the latter of which is probably going to be Endgame’s only casualty), I am a realist and there’s just no way that Marven (and Disney) are going to take such a Game of Thrones approach.

So, if I can’t get deaths then I at least want sufficient closure on all the original Avengers. We know there is going to be a Black Widow movie which will most likely take place prior to the first Avengers movie but they wouldn’t kill her off in Endgame if there is a prequel movie coming out. I just want all the arcs completely tied up: no loose ends, to the point that never seeing ANY of those characters again on-screen wouldn’t feel odd. Is that too much to ask?

I think, more importantly, we also need a good set-up for the new Avengers. Far From Home apparently follows immediately after the events of Endgame and so there HAS to be some sort of PTSD-style shit going on in Peter Parker’s life, especially if the departed (if you haven’t seen The Leftovers, it’s the name given to the people who vanish) actually remember fading from existence. Similarly, Black Panther is going to need to be given a direction to go in.

Obviously, with rumours and hints towards there being a time-travel element in Endgame, I have my concerns surrounding that as well. Doctor Strange used the time stone in Infinity War, and even though part of me feels like Marvel are trying to misdirect us with the trailer, I think that time travel is the most likely route for bringing the dusted back.

But…will Marvel/Dinsey address any butterfly effect? After all, changing one thing in the past could have major implications for the future. If Cap isn’t frozen in the ice during WW2, he wouldn’t be there to help in Avengers, he wouldn’t stop Bucky in Winter Solider or reveal Hydra as still existing within Shield, and it’s possible that the events of Civil War would never have taken place.

A similar effect can be found by changing any character’s backstory, even if only a tiny bit. I’m worried that Marvel/Disney might gloss over any changes without really addressing there having been any impact. Stuff changes in the past but only has an effect in the present and so everyone is where they were but alive and existing.

If I could have one wish regarding Endgame, it would be this (aside from all the character deaths): If there is any sort of dimension/universe hopping, I want a Rick and Morty reference. It will NEVER happen, I mean why would it? But that would be my one wish.

Spider-Man: Far from Home

Marvel 2019

image via Bullshit Express

Don’t get me wrong, there are a number of things that I’m certainly looking forward to in the Spider-Man sequel: Ned, the Peter/Fury interactions, Aunt May, and of course, seeing Jake Gyllenhaal step into the comic book villain role of Mysterio.

However, there is a certain concern that only seems to stem from Sony and their Superhero movie, and it’s something that I found in both Venom and Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3 (but also Green Lantern and even in Infinity War to a lesser extent) and that is these beings who don’t hold a physical shape but instead morph themselves into any shape they like. I really struggle to lose myself in a movie that uses this approach. When Iron-Man was fighting Thanos and kept just making these shields and shit, it broke the illusion that cinema usually holds over me.

So, if you’ve watched the Spider-Man: Far from Home trailer you may have some idea of what I’m referring to (although there is a very obvious explanation, but more on that in a moment). In the trailer, we see these “elemental” creatures or beings who are wreaking havoc across Europe. I hated it in Spider-Man 3 when Toby Maguire’s Spider-Man faced off with Venom (was that actually meant to be Venom? I always forget) and Sand-Man, and I hated it in Venom when they two symbiotes fight each other using various make-shift weapons.

My hope, but also my concern, is that this is all just Mysterio. I mean we know he’s going to be the villain, obviously…but wouldn’t that be the laziest twist in the world? I hope that is is Mysterio because if those creatures/being are real then I’ll be disappointed. However, I also hope that there is more going on than just Mysterio desperately seeking the admiration that the Avengers get and so he fakes attacks. He’s basically being Syndrome in Incredibles: using technology to fake an attack so he can be the hero, all to demonstrate being more powerful than the heroes he is actually jealous of.

One aspect of the MCU that I have thoroughly enjoyed has been this move from fantasy to sci-fi. I guess fantasy might be the wrong word…let me give you some examples: Vulture in Spider-Man: Homecoming wasn’t some bird-winged man but rather a regular guy making use of technology. Similarly, elements of “magic” have instead been given more scientific (and I use that term incredibly loosely) explanations. The exceptions being perhaps Loki, but even Doctor Strange dived into the idea of harnessing energy from various other dimensions, of which there are an infinite number.


Thanks for reading! Are you looking forward to these three MCU films? What are your hopes and/or concerns? Let me know down below! 

Don’t forget to follow me on here and on Twitter to stay up to date with my posts!

If you have anything to add or perhaps a suggestion for a future post, leave a comment!

Peace!

Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey Review!

So, despite my shouts of protest over the latest Assassin’s Creed game, my pride was crumpled by a 50% off sale on the X-box store. So, over the holidays, I managed to squeeze in about 60 hours of playing and as such, I’m here to share whether my original hatred for the game was justified or whether I need to take back my statement and announce my new-found love for all things Ubisoft!

I’m going to try my best to keep this post at least somewhat concise. I feel like I say that nearly every time I write a new one, but then 3,000 words later I’m staring back at a novel! In order to keep this short, I’m only going to look at two aspects of the game before drawing a conclusion: gameplay and storyline. To me, these are the two major elements of any Assassin’s Creed game.

Gameplay

image via GameAxis

So, I’m going to start off with the gameplay element. Even when I was ranting about my disapproval of this game many months ago, I always said that the gameplay would probably be great. Why wouldn’t it be? The gameplay in Origins was awesome and I completely loved it!

Combat

Assassin's Creed Odyssey

image via Instant-Gaming

Origins offered a fluid, more interactive, and ultimately more enjoyable fighting ability and system. Especially when you compare it to the rigid fighting style in the previous games. Odyssey matches Origins in that regard, taking many elements a step further and allowing for your fighting, hunting, and assassinating styles to be upgraded via the skill trees. This useful feature allows players to choose elements that match the way they play the game.

I loved fighting in Odyssey and I’ve always, always said that Assassin’s Creed needed RPG elements, even way back when I was writing about Rogue. Fighting higher level enemies is rarely impossible but always a challenge which makes you feel more involved in the game itself.

I also loved the mission aspect of Odyssey. The idea that the game never truly ends, due to there being at least 3 separate endings, allows players to feel like there is justification for staying in the Animus. This is something that always felt forced in previous games. Being able to jump between massive quest lines allows players to move from one story to the next whenever one grows a but tiresome or becomes too challenging due to the level difference of enemies.

Choice

Assassin's Creed Odyssey

image via Mashable

The choice aspect of the game was a concern for me. Again, it’s something that the games certainly needed, and in many ways I feel Odyssey did a great job of hitting the nail on the head. It had been suggested in Origins that Leia (or whatever the modern day character’s name is) would find a way to use the Animus as a sort of time machine, whereby she isn’t just reliving memories but actually altering the true event OR running a simulation of how things could have turned out IF those decisions had been made (as is suggested by the Isu in Odyssey).

However, while I did enjoy making certain choices and having that level of freedom, there was a major downside. It rarely felt like there was a right choice. Instead, it felt like every choice was either wrong or had no real bearing on the events of the game. I think Ubisoft tried too hard to force the players to make “difficult” decisions instead of focusing on how these decisions would change game events.

The same goes for choosing which side to fight for: Athens or Sparta. Ultimately, you must choose different sides in different situations in order to follow quests or to hunt certain cult members. This made the battles seem hollow in the grand scheme of things.

The Cult of Kosmos

Assassin's Creed Odyssey

image via AllGamers

The cult idea stems from a similar notion used in Origins whereby players “track” targets and essentially count down members until all are dead. Odyssey certainly stepped the game up here and hunting down cult members was fun and challenging. I enjoyed having to find clues or hunt other members before I could kill leaders. It actually felt like you were working your way through a hierarchy.

I do have an issue with the cult aspect though, but this relates more to the storyline than to the gameplay itself.

The mercenary aspect of the game seemed quite exciting at first but as I got more into it, I found it rather redundant. By the time I’d ranked up a couple of tiers, I stopped feeling the need to hunt down mercenaries and instead I just killed them whenever they crossed my path (when in an aggressive manner). I still think this was a great part of the game, particularly when your bounty shot up and you suddenly had 4 bounty hunters chasing you down. It worked well within storylines but also during free roam. Speaking of storylines…

Storyline

Assassin's Creed Odyssey

image via GameRevolution

While my opinion on the gameplay is almost entirely positive, the opposite is true when it comes to the storyline. I’d read many great reviews about Odyssey, with many stating that the emotional journey topped any of the previous games. Honestly, I found it all a bit much. Aspects of it were great and really made me feel like Ubisoft were back in the game, but other areas just couldn’t be ignored.

Good vs Bad

Assassin's Creed Odyssey

image via Wikia

To keep this balanced, I’m going to start with the story elements that were great. Firstly, I loved the way Odyssey blurred the lines between good and evil. In previous games, it’s been one group of people against another. In Assassin’s Creed III, for example, all of the Brits were the bad guys while all of the soon-to-be Americans were the good guys. Previous games typically take the approach that those in power are evil while those under the boot are the good guys.

Odyssey throws that to the wind by having cult members literally everywhere. There’s no reason to trust anyone (and as the game progressed I found myself trusting nobody). Sparta has cult members, Athens has cult members, your own family has cult members, and even the mercenaries have cult members. You don’t feel like the idea of good vs evil is being divided into two clear-cut groups.

Family Connections

Assassin's Creed Odyssey

imag via IGN

I have mixed feelings about the family storyline. On the one hand, I loved the connection to the ISU and the idea of a sacred bloodline. It explains WHY this family are so special, rather than it simply being a case of them being at the right place at the right time. It also explains all the different pieces of Eden floating around in Ancient Greece (more on that in a moment). However, I felt that some of the story arcs were just a little bit too far.

I’m sure we all knew from the start that Kassandra survived the fall because it just made sense…but then to learn that she was kidnapped by an evil organisation after surviving the fall, after her mother taken her to doctors, after her family had allowed her to be dropped from a ledge in the first place….after, after, after…then to learn that you mother was a pirate and your adopted father is the leader of the Spartan army while your biological father is a 120 year old man living at the gates of the lost city of Atlantis while he tries to decode an ancient language…and you’re descended from Leonidas!

Again, it sort of makes sense when you consider the bloodline element and so it’s hard for me to hate it completely but at times I felt like I was watching some awful tale of a broken home. I think the Pythagoras element was just one step more than I could handle.

The Pieces of Eden

Assassin's Creed Odyssey

image via Polygon

For me, the pieces of Eden were the major downfall of this game. Although, in saying that, they are the downfall of most of the Assassin’s Creed games. I get why they need to be in the story. Without them, it wouldn’t really feel like as Assassin’s Creed game…but then Odyssey really wasn’t an Assassin’s Creed game. You CAN assassinate people but you’re not part of the order.

Here is why the pieces of Eden annoyed me: there were at least 7 in this game! There are 4 apples of Eden, although it seems like none of these are apples that we’ve seen in previous games which means that there are at least 6, if not more in the world. The staff seemed a bit pointless and I don’t really understand its purpose. Why would a piece of Eden have been created to extend human life?

Then you have the spear which on its own I didn’t have a problem with. The same goes for the weird pyramid which requires all the various triangle segments. Now the pyramid may not have been a piece of Eden but rather just Isu technology (although I’m inclined to believe that it is indeed a POE) but it’s how the two interacted that I don’t understand.

Why would you need to use part of one piece of Eden in order to randomly upgrade another piece of Eden at a forge which apparently serves no other purpose beyond upgrading said POE? Why would the Isu NEED to upgrade the spear at all? When a civilisation has literal mind-control devices, what need to they have of a crazy-ass spear that can only be upgraded by cannablising another POE?

Mythical Creatures

Assassin's Creed Odyssey

image via RockPaperShotgun

So, when I first encountered the Sphinx in Odyssey, I was both intrigued and disappointed. On the one hand, I had always said that Ubisoft should just stop labelling these games “Assassin’s Creed” and instead make similar style games about mythical aspects of ancient time periods. On the other hand, I enjoyed this somewhat twisted idea that these mythical creatures were people who had been used by the Isu or by the pieces of Eden themselves, in order to create these abominations that now guard the POE.

So that element on its own was fine because I could see why it would make sense within the Assassin’s Creed world. However, you then discover a cyclops on Andros who isn’t connected to a POE and is serving no real function whatsoever. It’s just there to fight you and nothing else. Why bother giving the other creatures explanations when you’re then going to create the same creature but have it just there…doing fucking nothing!

I’ve also been led to believe that there is a Kraken somewhere in the game which I can only assume follows the same illogical premise as the random-ass cyclops. There’s also the random-ass island called Angry Caldera of Arges which contains what looks like an Isu temple symbol labelled “Cyclops Arges” but is actually just empty space. One can only assume that Ubisoft are going to throw creatures there (presumably a cyclops) once they decide to finish the game.

Atlantis

Assassin's Creed Odyssey

image via YouTube

Atlantis was without a doubt my BIGGEST disappointment in this game. When I first headed into the temple and met Pythagoras, I was so excited. I personally love the story of Atlantis (although it’s more likely that the site of Atlantis is on the North-West side of Africa which would have once been mostly underwater but I can see why they wanted to include it here) and so being able to connect it to the Isu riled me up.

To then learn that you’re not going to get to explore Atlantis at all, was a let-down. This would have been the perfect opportunity to give players more information on the Isu, maybe even a vision or insight into the goings on of Isu history and life. Instead, we get the same old messages to the Animus user and cryptic symbols and subtext. I’m getting pretty bored of utterly meaningless Isu messages and their mindless squabbling between one another. You’ll notice that Juno still hasn’t conquered the world!

I don’t see any point in waving Atlantis in front of the player’s face, only to tell them that it needs to be blocked to outside interferences. Something that didn’t even happen because Alexios keeps the staff for himself until Leia (might not be her name) takes it from him. I think Ubisoft are not only running out of ideas, but they also have no real direction for these games. I’m not sure they ever had any real direction for the series as a whole. Up until Assassin’s Creed III, the story made some sense. Then it got ridiculous and nonsensical and ultimately pointless until Origins which almost opened the door for Odyssey but then Ubisoft went through a different door entirely.

Summary

Assassin's Creed Odyssey

image via Mashable

So…do I need to retract my original statement about Odyssey being the final nail in Ubisoft’s coffin? Yes and no. The truth is, Odyssey was a great game to play. I certainly can’t deny that after spending 60 hours playing it. However, for me at least, gameplay only makes up a part of any game. I much prefer a game with a GREAT storyline but poor gameplay rather than the opposite.

That’s not to say that the story for Odyssey was awful. I think Ubisoft made some tremendous progress and it was undoubtedly better than I expected it to be. In fact, I can break down my opinion on the story a little further. I found the storyline for Ancient Greece and the story of Alexios to be a little ridiculous but still entertaining and interesting (for the most part).

My problem lies mostly with the Isu elements of the game and the modern-day storyline as we follow Lelu or Leigh or whoever. Neither of these made a great deal of sense and I feel like Ubisoft needs to have a meeting where they sit down and decide where to go. They need to STOP churning out games and instead have a discussion where someone says “what the fuck are we doing in the modern day? What is the end goal? Will the story ever come to a conclusion? Will we ever see a proper Isu storyline? Will players ever get to use the Animus to access Isu memories?

What does annoy me (but is also something that at this stage doesn’t shock me) is Ubisoft including content in DLCs that seems vital to the overall storyline. DLC content should be additional. Why are we seeing the creation of the Brotherhood or the origins of the hidden blade in DLCs? That is shit that should be happening in the main game!



Thanks for reading! What did you think of Odyssey? What do you hope Ubisoft’s next step will be? Let me know down below! 

Don’t forget to follow me on here and on Twitter to stay up to date with my posts!

If you have anything to add or perhaps a suggestion for a future post, leave a comment!

Peace!

‘Outlaw King’: A Missed Opportunity to Remove ‘Braveheart’ as THE Scottish Wars of Independence Movie!

If you haven’t seen Outlaw King yet and wish to read a spoiler-free review rather than an analysis, click here!

I’m sure most of you have heard of Braveheart while less of you have probably heard of Outlaw King. The latter is a recent Netflix movie that in essence continues from where Braveheart ends: Robert the Bruce and his battle for Scottish Independence. The problem that many people face is that there knowledge of Scottish history is lacking. Don’t get me wrong, that’s completely understandable for those of you who don’t have any ties to the country. However, the problem is doubled by the fact that Braveheart is often referred to as a historical movie. As I’ve said before, Braveheart is only beats Inglorious Basterds by a small margin as far as historical accuracy is concerned. So let’s briefly discuss why that is the case and how it relates to Outlaw King!

Click here to check out the trailer!

The Flaws of Braveheart

Outlaw King

image via History vs Movies

I don’t want to spend too much time picking away at the inaccuracies of Braveheart. If you’re interested in reading a more thorough explanation then feel free to check out my article on the matter. However, I am going to briefly summarise some of the more major deviations from historical fact. I feel like bullet points will suffice:

 

  • 14th century Scots did not paint their faces blue. This is something that the Picts did many centuries earlier but not during the Wars of Independence.
  • 14th century Scots didn’t wear kilts, particularly into battle. Kilts, while being associated with Scotland, didn’t become popular for another 500 years, around 1720.
  • Edward I didn’t die before William Wallace. In fact, they didn’t even die in the same year: Wallace was killed on August 23rd 1305 while Edward died on July 7th
  • Prime nocta (the idea that English nobles would sleep with Scottish women on the night of their wedding) didn’t exist, or certainly there isn’t any evidence to suggest that it did.
  • The Scottish Wars of Independence didn’t start because Wallace wanted to avenge his wife. While legend does speak of a Marion Braidfute, there isn’t any supporting evidence of her existence.

These are just a few of the major points that I wanted to bring up. Why are they important? It’s long been my opinion that when it comes to matters like this, the truth is far more interesting than fiction. Braveheart robs the Scottish people of their motivation to rebel against the English crown: it wasn’t over some lassie, it was because they had finally grown tired of being oppressed and essentially enslaved.

I can give a pretty good example of moments where fact beats fiction. The hanged, drawn and quartered scene in Braveheart is pretty brutal, right? Would it shock you to learn that the true events are in fact much worse? Wallace was stripped naked, dragged 6 miles by horse, had fruit, stones, and shit thrown at him, was hanged until he almost died, had his cock and balls cut off, his intestines were then pulled out of his body, he had to watch as his intestines were set on fire, had his heart removed, all before finally being beheaded. His body parts were then scatted across the country as a warning to any would-be rebels.

Outlaw King

Outlaw King

image via Den of Geek

Outlaw King begins just before the ending of Braveheart. The nobles of Scotland have accepted defeat and have made an arrangement with King Edward of England whereby they will return to their lands and begin paying taxes again. At this point in time, Wallace is in hiding and hasn’t been captured by the English. The movie demonstrates a really important aspect of history: The Scottish Wars of Independence were initially unsuccessful not because of the English, but because of the divide between Scottish nobles and their desperation to wear the crown. This is something that Braveheart does touch upon. However, Outlaw King also highlights the divide between the common people: many are sick of war but most are desperate to make the English pay.

 

There are many things that Outlaw King does perfectly that I simply couldn’t criticize it for. For starters, the attire worn by the characters is spot on in relation to what people wore in the 14th century. Chris Pine was OK; I’m still on the fence about his performance. However, Aaron-Taylor Johnson was the star of this movie, in my opinion. He plays James Douglas A.K.A The Black Douglas and he does it incredibly well. I was also impressed by both their Scottish accents which was one of my major worries when I heard they’d be starring in this movie.

Another aspect that I loved was that this movie plays on real emotions. Braveheart makes up nonsense for drama and effect but most of the emotional connections within Outlaw King are based on truth. For example, the deaths of Robert the Bruce’s brothers, the capture of his wife, the stabbing of John Comyn, the motivations of James Douglas, all of these things are true. These moments in the movie feel powerful and I have to congratulate the writers, director, and cast for that.

Similarly, the movie really makes you feel like you’re one of the people in 14th century Scotland. The death of Wallace fills you with rage, betrayal at the hands of your own countrymen fills you with hate, and the appearance of allies fills you with hope.

However…

Outlaw King

image via Choice.NPR

Unfortunately, despite being on the path to success, Outlaw King makes a few mistakes that really lower its value as a historical movie. Personally, I have no idea why these flaws weren’t noticed prior to filming but I play no role within the industry and so can’t comment on the process. The first issue is one scene in particular. I’m going to put it in a separate paragraph so you can avoid it if you don’t want to hear spoilers. The other is the ending of the movie. Well, not so much the ending but rather the content that they chose to include in the 2nd half. So let’s explore each of these and see how they could have been improved to make a GREAT movie. We’ll start with the latter of the two. Don’t worry, this one won’t contain any spoilers.

 

The Ending

Outlaw King

image via Film Goblin

I’m not actually going to discuss how the movie ends, but I am going to explore why it lacked flare. Outlaw King is a very different, and more intimate, movie than Braveheart. We’ve all seen Mel Gibson charging into many battles as the blue-faced William Wallace and so that’s almost what we expect in Outlaw King. However, as the name suggests, Robert the Bruce was an outlaw and during the start of his campaign he didn’t have massive battles in the same manner as Wallace. Instead, we see a more covert and tactical side to his attacks. I personally found these to be incredibly entertaining.

However, towards the end we needed a major battle scene and what the movie gives us just doesn’t feel like that. As I said in another post when reviewing this movie, the ending feels anticlimactic and inconclusive. When it ends, we get text across the screen which explains how events developed afterwards. I compared this to Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring ending with “…and then Frodo took the ring to Mordor and destroyed it”. That’s essentially what happens with Outlaw King. The set up is perfect but they don’t give us that all-important ending.

I think there were two ways to solve this problem. The first would have been to extend the movie’s run time to maybe 2 hours and 30 minutes. All we needed was one final battle, one major victory that demonstrated where the events of the movie led to. The other option would be to scrap the battle we get and replace it with a battle that occurred later in time. Alternatively, you could do both. Let’s explore the other issue I have with Outlaw King. This next paragraph will be comprised entirely of spoilers. You’ve been warned.

Spoilers!

Outlaw King

image via Roger Ebert

In the final battle, at Loudoun Hill, the Scottish army is victorious and the English are retreating. Of course not all of them, not yet. Edward II rises up from the mud to try and kill Robert the Bruce. We all knew a scene like this was coming because they foreshadowed it at the start in the cheesiest possible way (which now that I think about it was the only other major flaw of this movie). We then watch as Edward tries desperately to kill Robert, failing miserably each time. He then starts crying, is sick, and runs away. Why would the Scots let him leave? Robert the Bruce knows that the English have his wife and child and yet he lets the best bargaining chip he could possibly have escape?

 

You also have men there whose family and friends have been killed through the orders of Edward II and his father. Yet none of them try to kill him, seriously? I was fully enjoying this movie right up until this moment and then I felt like the experience shattered. It’s like if you were meditating and you’d reached this great space, then your friend grabs you by the shoulders and shakes you violently.

Final Thoughts

Outlaw King

image via Hollywood Reporter

In summary, Outlaw King most definitely had the potential to be a better movie that Braveheart. From my point of view, it still is. The fact that is stays closer to the real version of events automatically makes it a far more interesting portrayal of Scottish history. I also liked that this movie had a dirtier feel to it: characters are flawed, they aren’t miraculously saved, there are more defeats than victories, and even though the romance in Outlaw King is still a bit over the top, it feels a lot more realistic. The movie also managed to have some incredibly hilarious moments that didn’t feel remotely out of place. Where it lacks relates largely to the ending. Braveheart ends with you wanting to scream “FRREEEEEDOMM!” whereas Outlaw King just doesn’t have that effect, despite setting the emotion up perfectly.


Thanks for reading! What did you think of Outlaw King? Does it compare to Braveheart? Let me know down below! 

Don’t forget to follow me on here and on Twitter to stay up to date with my posts!

If you have anything to add or perhaps a suggestion for a future post, leave a comment!

Peace!