The Roaming Vegetarian


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The Point of Ridiculousness

HERE BE SPOILERS FOR BATMAN VERSUS SUPERMAN!
YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

Sometimes there is a point in a film that stretches credulity too far. Unfortunately once this point has been passed, no matter what has gone before, or after, suspension of disbelief has snapped and the rest of the film just loses it.

This happened to me whilst watching Batman versus Superman. The film started promisingly enough. There was some narration, which will annoy Cinemasins. The visuals were stunning. We found out for the twentieth time that Batman’s parents were shot in a mugging, which was interspersed with their funeral and a young Bruce Wayne running through a forest. Actually a very good beginning, I was enjoying it. Bruce Wayne’s run through a forest and subsequent tumble down a shaft reminded me very much Tim Burton’s take on Batman. It was extremely promising! In the shaft were hundreds of bats…..which flew around Bruce Wayne and lifted him out of the shaft. And it was doing so well until that point!

The trouble was, after this I found myself incapable of taking the rest of the film seriously. You might say “Why was that so hard to believe when you have a bloke in blue tights flying around the place?” And you’d be right. I can’t tell you exactly what it was about hundred of tiny little Bats lifting up a regular boy that was more unbelievable than an alien flying around with his underpants on the outside (OK, OK, I know that stopped after Christopher Reeve). Maybe it was because Batman was set up in this film as “Man” opposing Superman’s “God”, and I don’t believe hundreds or thousands of tiny Bats can lift up any sized kid.

The plot moved fairly slowly. Too much emphasis was placed on why Bruce Wayne was after Superman. It was almost as if the argument, if you looked too closely, was fairly shallow. As I understand it, this ran something like: Superman destroyed Metropolis; Superman has too much power; Superman must be stopped. This is a fairly common argument in fiction. The Main Hero stops a villain, and unfortunately a lot of people die in the process, the guilt of which plagues the Hero. I have no problem with this, or the fact some people will blame the Hero. Nowhere though was the argument made that Superman had reacted to the threat and was the only person who could stop Zod and his cohorts. Superman did not cause the situation, he reacted. He would have been blamed equally if he had simply sat back , thrown off his cape, and said “Not without indemnity” (now that’s the film I want to see!). Batman, I feel, would have thought of this argument, particularly given his background. He didn’t blame his parents for going into the alleyway, he blamed the mugger for killing them.

Eventually the eponymous fight comes around. A lot of time was spent trying to set this up and by the time it materialised we had found out Lex Luther had been spending his time to engineering the entire situation. The problem was, having found this out I wanted to see Batman and Superman team up and kick Luther’s butt straight away (that was by no means the only problem I had with the fight). OK so Lex Luther had kidnapped Superman’s mother, and Superman intended to persuade Batman to help him. He did try, but gave up far too quickly. Snyder had set up Batman to be stubborn and not likely to listen to Superman, so there would have been no problem in Superman continuing in his futile attempt to talk Batman around.

Let’s consider Wonder Woman. There was no attempt to explain her background with an irritating montage—pleasantly surprising for a popcorn superhero film. I liked the portrayal, although I think she could have been given a slightly bigger role and maybe a few character moments (there was ample scope for this). I would have loved it if, upon seeing the fight between the two guys, she could have rolled her eyes and said “Boys and their toys!” Or something, anything…

There was a lot to like about the film. There were more comedic moments towards the end, but I would have liked more of those throughout the film. There was a particularly good moment for Batman just before Wonder Woman shows up in full costume, which wins my prize for “best moment”. Second prize has to go to the moment when Lex Luther makes a telephone call and gets an unexpected answer. In equal second place is Batman meeting Superman’s mum.

In conclusion then, its slow to get going. The fight is less than expected but I think this is mainly due to how it was set up. Then the film really takes off and we get a glimpse of what it could have been with some slight alterations. Whether they like it or not, the makers of this film could learn from Joss Whedon and putting in more character/comedic moments. Providing they also keep in mind that “less is more”, they would be able to make their film (and the rest of the planned DC universe) sufficiently different from the Marvel franchise. Better would be a matter for debate.


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The Magician’s Apprentice – Review

And spoiler free for once!!
On Saturday the very first episode of series 9 of Doctor Who aired. I was less than hopeful. Being a devout Dr Who fan I was going to watch it regardless the quality ….. and the quality of the past few years has not been all that great.
When first the mists rolled back on the opening sequence my first thoughts were of the classic series. I was transported back the Tom Baker era with the mighty Tom declaiming loudly in the middle of a quarry. The atmosphere was set, nostalgia with a hint of curiosity was kindled. The opening scenes of the episode were very promising indeed. Apart from wanting to shout angrily at the actor who clearly had no idea how to hold, aim or use a bow and arrow, I was impressed by the opening. The climax of which had my husband saying “There could be another one…you never know – this could be the one who runs the kebab shop.”

In previous episode nods to the ‘classic’ series have been loudly heralded. The references stuck out, hanging like Christmas tree ornaments that have been left out all year. In this episode the many references were actually subtle. They seemed to be part of the story, there for fans to spot if they could, rather than being heavily underlined and could only be missed if you had your eyes shut and fingers in your ears.
The more obvious reference came in the form of clips from the classic series, but there were others that could technically be missed and were subtle enough that I caught a few more with a second viewing.

This is a two part story, however I suspect the story arc has been set in motion that will continue through the series. A comment made by the Doctor early in the episode has me particularly hopeful! For once I found I actually wanted to know what was going to happen next. The story had me hooked, and not either apathetic  or predicting (usually with high accuracy) what was going to happen next.

Michelle Gomez portrayal of the Master/Mistress has greatly improved. Personally I felt that the ‘banana’s’ aspect of her personality, that she seemed to be promoting in the last series, should be toned down or more preferably, go completely. Both Ainley and Delgardo could portray the master in such a way that when they worked together with the Doctor they were doing so for their own interests and it didn’t seem out of character. I could not imagine Gomez’s version of the master as portrayed in the last series being able to do that. However in this episode I think she succeeded. I’m looking forwards to episode two to see if this is built on….or destroyed completely!

Clara still annoys me. However she seems to have acquired some sort of maturity that makes her slightly less irritating than last series. I resented the fact that ‘Doctor Who’ seemed to have morphed into the ‘Clara Oswald show’. Clara seemed to have the answer to everything. Clara solved all of the problems, the Doctor was superfluous. This episode has made me cautiously optimistic. The Doctor seems to be the grand orchestrator, and neither Clara, nor Missy have a real idea what he is up to.

In conclusion, I would give the episode a cautious 7.5 out of ten. Maybe even and 8! I enjoyed the episode. It had me guessing and wanting to see the next, something that has not happened for a good long while! Well done Mr Moffat! Keep it up!!


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An Overdue Review

The Man From Uncle 2015

There be spoilers ahead!

Right from the start the ‘Man from UNCLE’ was in my bad books. I was excited about the film and wanted to see how Guy Ritchie would interpret one of my favorite TV Series, but when I read that neither Robert Vaughn or David McCallum were going to appear in it, I was extremely disappointed, to say the least.

Now, having at last seen the film I maintain that not including them was a mistake. True, I have been left with a much more positive view of the film, however I think having Vaughn and McCallum in the film, even as a cameo, would have added a lot more. I am a fan of the TV series, so naturally I would like to have seen them.

The film is a re-imaging of “The Man from Uncle” and is an origin story not only of the two main characters Solo and Kuryakin, but of UNCLE itself.

Here is the first major diversion from the series, Solo and Kuryakin both get backgrounds. Solo is an army man turned safe cracker and Kuryakin is a KGB agent with a quick temper. I think this is done in part to explain the various skills they both have acquired over the years. Since this is Guy Ritchie’s ‘re-imaging’ of ‘The Man from UNCLE’ I can accept these changes. We learn a lot about their pasts and whilst the audience cannot empathize with the characters, we can at least be somewhat sympathetic to their point of view. I am hoping that the inclusion of their backgrounds means that should there be further films, there will be more developments from their pasts and this was not included simply to make them appear like ‘chalk and cheese’.

Unfortunately, if this was an attempt to make a ‘two people from completely different back ground who suddenly find they actually like each other’ or ‘bromance’ film it didn’t quite work. It has been said that the two stars lacked a chemistry and I would agree with that assessment providing I could add an asterisk. For the majority of the film they lack chemistry, however as the film concluded, the scene where Kuryakin receives orders from his KGB boss to carry out his instructions regardless and he goes to see Solo made me believe that there could be chemistry between the two.

Since I am a fan of the TV series inevitably I will be comparing Henry Cavill’s Solo with that of Robert Vaughn. Conclusion? He’s no Robert Vaughn. Well no surprise there. Vaughn’s Solo had a charm and charisma the Cavill tries to live up to but falls short. I had the feeling he was trying too hard to be charming, and it ended up feeling forced. A bit like the monotone voice Cavill adopted for the role. Again whilst not totally unpleasant it did feel forced. It may seem that I’m being wholly negative. There was a lot about Cavill’s performance I enjoyed and since I intend to buy the dvd at some point I don’t object to him continuing to play Solo!

Kuryakin was my favorite of the two in the TV series and Armie Hammer took Kuryakin down a very different route to McCallum’s version, which worked for me. My only criticism is that he seemed to be totally devoid of humor. Kuryakin did have some humor and Hammer should have brought some of this to the role. Having said that, I only really missed it in one scene, where he sneaks up on the torturer, definitely missing humor in that scene! As for the other major changes in Kuryakin’s personality I don’t object to them. I think I would only object if nothing is made of them in future films and suddenly everything is magically ‘fixed’.

I was expecting to hate Hugh Grant as Alexander Waverly but once again Guy Ritchie (and Hugh Grant!) surprised me! I liked it! I think he played Mr Waverly’s ‘slightly smug, know-it-all’ personality very well. I think I would have liked to have seen a scene where Mr Waverly lets the two agents know he was listening in to their conversations in the helicopter, Solo and Kuryakin look at him in disbelief and ask why he didn’t do anything and he replies that he wanted to see what they would do. But that is beside the point. I liked Hugh Grants portrayal, it was understated, delivered extremely well and I would not be disappointed to see him as Mr Waverly again.

At least Ritchie seems to have learned from his first ‘Sherlock’ film. The female protagonist isn’t annoying and she doesn’t get in the way. However it could be argued that a direct comparison could be made of the plots of that film and ‘The Man from Uncle’. Lets see…There is a female protagonist, she’s missing someone, two heroes go in search of aforementioned someone, girl ‘betrays’ them, world ending catastrophe inevitably ensues….hang on are we certain this isn’t the same film?!

In conclusion, I enjoyed it. I am willing to excuse the lack of chemistry due to the stars finding their feet, and the characters they are playing. I am hoping that should there be another film, there will be improvements. As I have mentioned the concluding scene of the film gives me some hope. In fact if you are in the mood to compare ‘The Man from Uncle’ with the ‘Sherlock’ films (and lets face it a lot of comparisons CAN be be made!) then the second film might just be better than the first!


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Yet another Game Of Thrones post – Maggy the Frog

I promise I’ll try and find something else to write about, but until then…

Tin foil ready?

Good!

GRRM has said that prophecies have to be treated as a double edged sword. Also it is in the nature of prophecies to be sufficiently vague that it is only after the events have occurred that their true meaning becomes clear. This is helpful in the context of a narrative because it implants clues and keeps people theorising and guessing. But it also means that essentially a prophecy is worthless because you can only interpret them after the event has occurred.

So what is the use of a prophecy if you only get what it means after it has happened? To increase the angst of the character about whom the prophecy is made? As a warning? In Lord of the Rings, Galadriel make the point that some never come to be as people who have seen them turn aside to prevent them from happening. Which leads me to one conclusion:

Prophecies are pointless.

But prophecies are a staple of fantasy fiction I hear you gasp. And there may be fantasy stories out there which make good use of prophecies but as yet I’ve not read any. Let’s take a a well known fantasy prophecy, that of Sybil Trewlany in the “Harry Potter” series. As Dumbledore points out, would Harry have gone after Voldemort had there been no prophecy? Of course he would! Wouldn’t Voldemort have still gone after Harry parents because they had ‘thrice defied him’. Voldemort always struck me as being pretty vindictive, so I’m going to say yes. Point of prophecy is therefore nullified!

So the point of the prophecy is to wind up…sorry provide motivation for the character to or about whom they are made. And even then it’s pretty weak.

Turning my attention (at last I’m sure you’re saying, if you haven’t given up reading by now that is) to Cersei. Her dislike of Tyrion began when he was born when she accused him of killing her mother. Cersei and Jamie are older than their brother by some years, we can assume their ‘special relationship’ began before he was born. Cersei could never understand why she was treated any differently to her brother. There is already a resentment there. But she has a special relationship with her brother, she feels as though they are two parts of the same person. When he makes a decision, they make a decision. Then what happens? A third person. Regardless of how he came into the world Cersei was not going to like him whoever he was going to be. The fact he was who he was only added to the resentment and hatred Cersei was already forming for him. In a way the prophecy, how Cersei reads it any rate, just adds confirmation to her beliefs. Without it, she would have hated Tyrion anyway. Again, the prophecy doesn’t add much. Some would say that the prophecy explains Cersei’s hatred. I would argue that people and families have been hating each other without prophecies since time immemorial. Cersei doesn’t need the prophecy to hate Tyrion, as I have said it could be argued she would probably have hated Tyrion anyway, the prophecy acts as a confirmation for her.

Actually, none of the above has anything to do with the point I was going to make about Maggy the Frog’s prophecy, or part of it anyway. I thought it might make interesting filler material as the point will not take long.

Gold shall be their crowns and gold their shrouds,”

Gold shall be there crowns….Most people have interpreted this literally as all three children will wear crowns and be crowned. I’m here to tell you not necessarily. Crown can also mean hair or top of your head:

http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/crown

“The top part of a person’s head or a hat: his hair was swept straight back over his crown”

The wording is quite clever, playing on the dual meaning of crown. In one sentence Maggy is saying “you are going to have three golden haired children by your brother Jamie (Eww!!) and they are going to be royal (they are princes and princess after all).

And that is the genius of prophecies! If worded carefully they can be both vague and precise. They provide that eureka moment for the reader when they work out the meaning and are proved correct. Maybe prophecies are pointless, but that doesn’t stop them from being loads of fun!


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Game of thrones- The most important question

Whether you believe R+L = J, or whether you dearly want to see Tyrion, Daenerys mounted on the backs of dragons with Bran taking over the mind of the third dragon as they fly to meet the growing threat of the White Walkers, or even if you want to see Stannis coming to his senses and killing the Red Priestess because no reward he expects was ultimately worth the price he paid pales into insignificance when you consider the most important question of the series (books or TV series) appears to have been completely ignored….

Where on earth is Benjen Stark? Has Martin forgotten about him? Have the writers of the TV series? Will we ever get to find out? Are we ever going to know? Will he arrive at end and save the day? Is he the Azor Ahai and Jon Snow and Daenerys just red herrings? Is no-one else wondering where he is? Is he living it up with the Night’s King drinking icy margaritas in the land of always Winter?

What on Westeros happened to Benjen Stark?!

bstark


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Showing off

I’ve been a fan of “How It Should Have Ended” for sometime and recently they had a competition where they challenged their fans to come up with alternative endings to “The Amazing Spiderman 2”. I submitted an idea and it got picked! So here is “How The Amazing Spiderman 2 Should Have Ended”. In case your wondering my idea was the scientists and the lid. Enjoy!


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The ‘Game of Thrones’ post

It was bound to happen sooner or later and here it is for your delectation:

The Game of Thrones post! Need I warn you that there are spoilery things ahead?

Still here?

Then I’ll begin.

Game of thrones fever has spread across Britain and USA and there are no signs of it abating. The series has been so successful that it’s footprints can be seen in other series’ hoping to cash in in the action.

Whilst ‘The White Queen’ was highly enjoyable, the fact that it simply did not have the budget of ‘Game of Thrones’ was obvious. But it wasn’t just ‘The White Queen’ hoping to cash in on Game of Thrones popularity. Actor’s from the show are guest starring all over the place and being advertised as ‘seen in Game of Thrones’. Not necessarily a bad thing. Game of Thrones has a host of amazing actors and I would not be unhappy to see them in other things. I am particularly looking forward to Charles Dance anticipated appearance on Doctor Who. Not to mention Peter Dinklage in ‘X-Men Days of Future Past’. I think that the actors are good enough on their own without their ‘Game of Thrones’ credentials and I have to be wary of any show that advertises a ‘guest starring’ role solely on that basis.

I have a confession to make. I haven’t read the books. I have ‘read ahead’ as it were using various internet sources so I know roughly what is coming up. Not having read the books I cannot say how far the series has deviated. I do know there are a lot of people who are very unhappy with the path the show has taken. I also know these people will not value my opinion, but since this is my blog, I’m going to give it anyway. Adaptation from books to screen are always controversial and no-one is going to be completely happy with the results. Peter Jackson is a fine example of this. The Lord of the Rings films were and still are extremely popular with the majority of people, however people are not happy with the changes Jackson made. I for one was not happy with some of the changes made to Aragorn’s character, but I understand why those changes were made. Whether Smaug has two legs or four seems to have some people really upset, they choke on two leg-wings but accept a fire-breathing lizard without question….I write stories myself and I am now going to put forward a opinon that will probably be not at all popular (however since only about 5 people read this blog I don’t think I’m going to get into too much trouble) authors make mistakes. Yes I said it. Authors are not perfect.

Now that I’ve lost your attention, I’ll continue by telling you what I mean. Would Aragorn, a ranger and warrior, really carry a broken sword around with him? The wall of Helms deep would curve outwards and not inwards. Lighting beacons to send a warning was used historically, the red arrow was not a very efficient way of carrying a message. That isn’t to say I approve of all Jackson’s changes, but I hope I’ve conveyed my point. To everyone wondering what the hell I’m talking about…re-read ‘The Lord of the Rings’. Regarding the changes made by the show, as far as I am aware between seven and eight series are planned. Even with ten one hour long episodes they are not going to have time to include every single plot, character and detail. Pages of description whilst a treat to read are going to be background details and set dressing. We are currently on season four and rapidly catching up with the books. My theory for is going to be changed from the books (that I haven’t read) to the series is this: The show will stick to the spirit of the books. As Martin has told the shows producers where the books are going I think we can assume that the show will take the characters to their destination, just not quite by the same route. If there are important, character shaping incidents, I think they will happen, just not in the same place as the book.

MAJOR SPOILER ALERT! DO NOT CARRY ON READING IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO KNOW WHAT MIGHT POSSIBLY HAPPEN NEXT IN THE SERIES! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

Take Lady Stoneheart for example. As far as I am able to gather she is currently wondering around Westeros hanging people she has a grudge against. The important part is her interaction with Brienne. Lady Stoneheart accuses Brienne of being a traitor as she has the sword that Jamie Lannister gave her. Brienne insists that she isn’t as she is still looking for for her daughters in order to protect them and she has has Jamie all wrong and that he isn’t all that bad. This makes no impression on Lady Stoneheart who tells Brienne she either has to swear to kill Jamie Lannister or be hanged. Initially Brienne refuses, as she is about to be hanged, she shouts something. I think we can assume the ‘something’ is probably the word ‘yes’, since she is next seen lying to Jamie Lannister about the fate of Sansa Stark. In this case I think it is perfectly plausible for something else to happen to Brienne to force her into agreeing to kill Jamie Lannister. It doesn’t have to be Lady Stoneheart, plenty of other existing character’s hate Jamie enough to kill him. If the point of that particular plot line is to force Brienne to have a crisis of conscience, should she keep her word and kill him or break her word and let him live? Then others can force that choice on her. Having said all of that, I am betting Lady Stoneheart probably will make an appearance.

Aegon Targaryen is another character that, at the moment at least, could probably be cut. All the series would have to do is have Varys supporting Daenerys Targaryen’s claim to the Iron throne rather than Aegon. However the are several arguments against this. The first is the proliferation of accurate prophecies hanging around around Westros. Not matter how mad the person seems if they come out with a prophecy it will undoubtedly come true. So far there hasn’t been a prophecy made that hasn’t come true, just inaccurate interpretation of accurate ones(…just saying….). Anyway I’m drifting.

Soon comes the pale mare, and after her the others. Kraken and dark flame, lion and griffin, the sun’s son and the mummer’s dragon.” – Quaithe of the Shadow

The ‘mummer’s dragon’ probably refers to Aegon. However the show seems to be downplaying the amount of prophecies made unless they are saving them all for future series. Even if this prophecy isn’t mentioned there is always this:

The dragon must have three heads … but I am too old to be one of them. I should be with her, showing her the way, but my body has betrayed me”

This is said by Maester Aemon. The three headed Dragon is part of the House Targaryen coat of arms and three Targaryens seems to be a recurring theme in their history. There is some debate as to whether Aegon is who is claims to be. Personally I don’t believe Varys would gamble the future of the realm he claims to serve on a phoney. Plus Daenerys hatched three dragons. I am going to go out on a limb here and say I think the three Dragons will represent three people born with Targaryen blood. More on that later.

Even if the show decide against to include some of the other side prophecies, I am hoping they include ‘the prince who was promised’, mainly because I have formed a theory on it. Yes my reason is pure selfishness! Rhaegar (the nice Targaryen) thought the prophecy referred to him. As we don’t have a full transcription a lot of the debate is mute, however we do have this tantalising information:

The birth of a male child – a prince. (erroneous according to Maester Aemon)

The prince is of the blood of the dragon.

Born amidst smoke.

Born amidst salt.

A bleeding star in the skies. (also mentioned is being born beneath a bleeding star)

Possibly the return of dragons (when he was a boy Aegon V recalled that King Aerys I read about the return of dragons in a prophecy.)

The dark eye falls upon the prince.

What Rhaeger read, we cannot guess but he was convinced enough to start training as a Knight so presumably he recognised something and I might even go so far as to say it was something that he thought others would not be convinced by since he didn’t confide in anyone (that we know of). After a while, he seems to decide the prophecy in fact refers to his son Aegon.

He is the prince that was promised, and his is the song of ice and fire.”

Maester Aemon thinks the prophecy refers to Daenerys, since the ‘prince’ part might have been mistranslated. (On a side note, in German the word for ‘she’ is ‘sie’ and the word for ‘they’ is ‘sie’, admittedly George RR Martin has absolutely no reason to use the German language as a source, but you have to admit it would be interesting if the Aemon was right that the prophecy was mistranslated but wrong with his translation….just a thought) However the misinterpretation of prophecies is as prolific as the prophecies themselves. My theory, (if you’re interested and if you have got this far in the post I presume you are) is that the prophecy indeed refers to Rhaegar’s son – Jon Snow. My reasoning? The list above could easily refer to Jon Snow if indeed he is, as a lot of fans believe him to be, the son of Rhaegar and Lyanna. The list could just as easily refer to Aegon and Daenerys, but the clinching information for me is ‘song of ice and fire’. For a start it was important enough for Rhaegar to mention it, so it is probably part of the prophecy. The Starks belong to the north and snow and ice and the Targaryens are the embodiment of fire. So if anyone is ‘ice and fire’ it’s Jon Snow. Daenerys, Aegon and Jon Snow, the three dragons? Indeed perhaps ‘the prince that was promised’ is more of a mistranslation that Maester Aemon thinks.

There are other prophecies that I am hoping will at least get a mention. Particularly that of Maggy the Frog. The declarations that Maggy makes to Cersei adds to her reasons for hating Tyrion. I think it will also add to the ‘misinterpretation’ theme I am seeing connected with prophecy making. Possibly the show is saving this for when Tyrion returns from his exile and confronts Cersei? That’s if Martin doesn’t kill either of them off beforehand. Then there is Moqorro’s prophecy concerning Tyrion:

Dragons old and young, true and false, bright and dark. And you. A small man with a big shadow, snarling in the midst of it all.”

I just want this to be in the show because Tyrion is my favourite character. That’s all.

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