Monthly Archives: May 2015

Telltale’s Game of Thrones: Choice vs Narrative

game of thrones telltale(The following article contains some spoilers from Telltale Games’s Game of Thrones series)

Ever since their first season of The Walking Dead, Telltale Games has been primarily known as the company that specializes in narrative-heavy, choice-driven games. While familiarity with their formula has led to slightly diminishing returns, and none of their recent titles have packed the emotional punch that the first season of their Walking Dead series did, they have been consistently entertaining and unique. The Wolf Among Us was a cool comic-based neo-noir fantasy piece, tied to the existing “Fables” property but also perfectly suited to the uninitiated. Tales from the Borderlands has nailed its parent series’ style and sense of humor, while crafting a story and cast of characters with a lot more complexity than its shooter-siblings would allow. Even the second season of The Walking Dead, while paling in comparison to the first, did a generally strong job of balancing player choice with a pre-ordained story.

However, four episodes in, their Game of Thrones series appears to be their first major misstep. This is for several reasons, but two stand out in particular. First is that, on a conceptual level, Game of Thrones was destined to run into trouble. Unlike The Walking Dead and Tales from the Borderlands, which utilize different sets of characters than their source material, and The Wolf Among Us, which is a prequel to the main series, Game of Thrones takes place during the same time period as the fourth season of the show. It also utilizes many of the same characters. The central families involved, the Forresters and the Whitehills, are inventions for the game, but are frequently interacting with characters whose fates are set in stone.

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Lucy Review

lucy

(This review contains spoilers. I think you should read it anyway)

One of the few complaints I remember seeing about Breaking Bad, while it was still on the air, was that it was too flashy for its own good, resorting to fancy novelty shots from time to time. Personally, this never bothered me about the series, and was something I quite enjoyed about it. Nobody was arguing that Breaking Bad didn’t have the depth of character, story, and theme to back it up, so why not throw some style into the mix? Stylistic flourishes should be used like a spice, adding a tiny bit more flavor to an already-satisfying dish.

Where it does become a problem is with a film like Lucy, in which there is nothing compelling for the visual flourishes to spice up. Every chance he gets, filmmaker Luc Besson tosses in cutaways to further emphasize already obvious points. While Morgan Freeman is explaining the drive for organisms to reproduce, he cuts away to multiple shots of animals having sex, just in case we had a momentary lapse in knowledge and needed to have the method of reproduction re-established for us. Earlier, when Lucy (played by a very game Scarlett Johansson) is being tricked by her boyfriend so that she’ll do a dangerous job for him, we’re shown an image of a mouse almost taking cheese from a mousetrap. Then, when she is captured by the bad guys for attempting to deliver her boyfriend’s package, we see a cheetah killing its prey. But wait, isn’t Lucy wearing a cheetah-fur jacket? Oh ho ho, dear viewer, a reversal of fortune is afoot!

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Firsties Episode 13: Pete and Pete – New Year’s Pete and King of the Road

This week on Firsties, we cover the final “special” episode of Pete and Pete, along with the first official episode of the series. Watch them below!

New Year’s Pete: www.youtube.com/watch?v=UbCvGlNeFs8

King of the Road: www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Mym2-Y1fgo

If you’d like to watch ahead for next week, these are the episodes we’ll be covering:

Day of the Dot: www.youtube.com/watch?v=LgJOhi4MQmY

Nightcrawlers: www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-4x5VfnFlk

Jay and Ross Talk Shit Episode 15

This week on Jay and Ross Talk Shit: David Letterman’s final episode, Maggie Gyllenhaal’s outing of Hollywood sexism, Mad Max: Fury Road, and A LOT of fun tangents!

Time codes are below:

0:00 – Intro
0:38 – David Letterman’s legacy and final episode
—2:44 – 4:00 – Norm Macdonald tangent
6:10 – The future of late night television
10:45 – Maggie Gyllenhaal “too old” to play a 55 year old’s love interest at 37
—13:38 – 18:25 – James Bond tangent
19:05 – Mad Max
—33:08 – 34:27 – Movie ticket pricing tangent
—35:38 – 40:04 – Bad movies/ideas tangent
40:04 – Remakes, reboots, and sequels
—46:33 – 48:57 – Critic/audience response tangent

The Mad Men Finale Strikes the Balance Between Resolution and Ambiguity

(This article contains spoilers)

mad men

Update: Between the time I wrote this piece and the time that it published, a Hollywood Reporter interview went live in which Matthew Weiner spoke more in-depth about the ending than he had before. That being said, the headline most websites are running with (that Weiner confirms the reason for the Coca-Cola commercial’s inclusion) is wildly misleading, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Weiner clarifying the comment in the near-future. He also pushes back against the pure-cynicism many critics are deriving from the ending, something I talk about below. You can find a link to that interview here. My original piece is below.

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If ever there was a show that trusted its audience to “get” its message, it’s Mad Men. The cast consists largely of characters who constantly say what they don’t mean. They lie to get accounts, they pretend to be people who they are not, and they manipulate their actual feelings to make them marketable and tie them to products. Even when characters say what they mean, like when Don and Peggy proselytize about moving past your problems, the show usually doesn’t stop in its tracks to explicitly agree or disagree. It is up to the audience to discover what the show is about.

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