Category: Movies/TV/Entertainment

Marco Polo (Solution to your lack of Game of Thrones fix)


 

Trust me I wouldn’t be talking(writing) about Marco Polo if I didn’t think it was worth it. I just finished binge watching season 2 last night and I have to admit I wasn’t disappointed one bit. Yes in terms of scale and production Value GOT definitely trumps Marco Polo but it has to be said that it MP makes up for it in palace intrigue and multiple subplots that come together in an impressive and immersive 10 episodes.

There are not many shows that deliver on multiple levels as Marco Polo right now and for it’s chutzpah I am really impressed. A whole new world in the east is introduced before us over two seasons and we gradually see how great a role the Mongolian Empire played in birthing what later became subsequent dynasties in ancient China.

A lot of people might not be willing to give Marco Polo a chance but I feel that would be somewhat foolhardy giving the reward of both a little bit of historical education along with quality entertainment the season promises, and I am not just exaggerating when I say it isn’t a bad substitute for Game of Thrones even if there are no dragons or white walkers.

From the onset we are introduced to the curious, naive but knowledgeable Marco as he forcefully travels with his trader father across the vast lands of the east and further into the North  across the treacherous Gobi desert. Things don’t particularly seem interesting but the minute young Marco comes face to face with the great Kublai Khan you begin to realize the true potential for how far this story can go. Gradually the story helps in introducing this most intriguing Royal court comprised of the usual loyalist, royal prisoners, bastards and traitors. Most important of them all turns out to be the great Wudang monk who trains Marco, there’s the snaky Yusuf and the ambiguous but wise Ahmad. 100 eyes is both captivating and gracious as he delivers both dialogues and martial art moments that make Marco Polo memorable.

Other characters such as Prince Jingim, Empress Chabi and Princess Kokachin have their moments but to be honest, they never truly come into their own till the second season and after almost a year’s wait it turns out to be truly worth the wait. We do hope Marco Polo season 2 manages to surpass the heights of season 1 as we believe that is a critical yardstick it requires to get a 3rd season greenlit.

If you’re curious enough you might as well do a bit of historical research on what promises to be a formidable plot regarding the legendary Prester John for an as yet announced season 3. In the meantime, enjoy Season 2. I sure did.

Lest I forget, special mention must be made of the amazing actors on this show, starting foremost with the brilliant Benedict Wong as Kublai Khan and Lorenzo Richelmy as the titular Marco Polo. It’s amazing how they managed to get the legendary Michelle Yeoh on but her addition definitely raised the show’s value several notches higher.

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Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, My issues

Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, My issues


So I think I have left it long enough before finally saying what I feel about this particular movie, but before we get into the real gist I want to make it clear that I am and will always be a DC comics fan first and foremost, something that I have always been proud of since I was in my preteens. My first comic book was a Superman comic predictably and that was after watching the classic Richard Donner opus Superman II.

The next few years had me plying through any DC comic book I could come across as well as watching any superhero adaptation ever brought to screen that I could lay my hands on and I went as far as some dodgy Spiderman series I used to catch on cable back in those days.  My love for comic books and superheroes has only grown especially with the work Christopher Nolan did in his Dark Knight trilogy.

Till this day The Dark Knight still stands as one of the best ever movies I have seen by any standard and Heath Ledger’s interpretation as the Joker is unparalleled. Then Warner Bros decided to get into the franchise game with all their cards on deck by rebooting the once troubled Superman and throw in all other members of the Justice league for full measure since Marvel/Disney were clearly smiling to the bank off a widely celebrated Avengers Movie debut.

First came Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel which I personally didn’t completely enjoy but accepted was a decent introduction story for the Man of Steel albeit with quite a bit more improving to do then DC chose to take large steps instead of baby steps by throwing in a Batman v Superman movie while introducing the nucleus of the Justice League roster. Did it work? I think not.

BvS was a mess from the first scene I saw with Bruce Wayne having to witness his parents dying again, like the poor kid hasn’t seen enough as it is already. As far as I am concerned that scene could have been left out entirely and Snyder would still have time to insert a few more minutes of substantial storytelling that would or would have not helped his case, but as things go along you begin to realize there’s much more wrong with this movie than repeating the death of Bruce Wayne’s parents.

Who does Lex Luthor have a grouse with and why is it that Batman seems to all of a sudden have no qualms with killing people? Considering how things played out in Man of Steel I wonder how Clark Kent/Kal El finds himself assuming the moral high ground against Batman regarding his methods of dishing out justice. So just like that a United States Senator can pull strings and permit full access to captured alien technology and the body of General Zod unsupervised.

Look, the whole idea of this particular Lex Luthor didn’t just add up. What were his motivations? That one man should not have all this power? So that justified in the most extreme of ways him unleashing a near unstoppable monster on the world? Why the hell would Snyder  let Metropolis be just across the river from Gotham City? Was that ever something to take liberties with?

Bruce Wayne is a billionaire business man by day and I reckon has almost the same amount of resources as Lex Luthor while I would put a foot out to say he is probably smarter, so why didn’t he see Lex’s game from a mile away. Then there’s also Clark who I assumed had proven himself to be a capable journalist. How come he got a simple envelope with pictures from an anonymous source and didn’t start to question if he was being set up because at this point I knew Snyder had taken it too far trying to make us feel these legendary heroes of ours weren’t that smart.

Then there was the much touted fight scene which so happens to be the film title. Talk about a downer because we only get less than 15mins of slugfest and even that was lacking in oomph. I wish I could say I understand all the excuses made on behalf of Snyder’s work here but that’s the problem already; I read a hand full of think pieces about how Snyder wanted to delve into the psychology of these respective heroes and deconstruct them to a level we could all relate with, an effort in helping we the audience understand their motivations and their driving forces. Unfortunately that was a wrong direction because I don’t think it’s a good idea to deconstruct Batman & Superman.

These are two characters the world holds to a very high standard despite the fears and suspicions we have about them. We ask if Superman is too powerful to be trusted and if Batman truly has no regard of the rule of law. But as long as we have known them neither of them has proven those fears legitimate to considerable degrees hence that situation of tentative ease about a hero persists. But in Snyder’s interpretation all bets are off. Batman has a batmobile that has enough fire power and a grappling hook to end over half a dozen lives while we have already seen Superman’s battle with fellow kryptonians bring down skyscrapers with hundreds of people still in them. These are not the heroes we know, they are clearly flawed men, with daddy issues, powers and near unlimited resources. Now these are the versions the world ought to be worried about and I don’t like it.

The Winds of Winter review (my take)

The Winds of Winter review (my take)


 

It doesn’t get better than seeing the major characters finally take their positions in the build up to the impending final confrontation most of us have always predicted but in this case there are a series of confrontations actually.

As if by coincidence winter has finally come and the white ravens have been sent to all the castles in westeros to prepare for what many have predicted to be the longest winter in hundreds of years (and there are the pesky white walkers).  Cersie finally sits on the Iron throne a position I believe she has always desired even at the expense of the lives of her own children. It has to be said that there isn’t much to like about Cersie but you have to undoubtedly admire her pristine survival instincts. At great expense she has managed to hold on to power and stay relevant despite the many threats and deaths that have occurred to her loved ones and those around her and there is every indication that more is still to come from this formidable woman.

Then there is the resilient and resourceful Arya Stark. If you guys weren’t counting I have been and for a little girl she really is putting together the kind of body count that gets you noticed in both Bravoos and Westeros but no one knows she’s the one responsible for these particular killings, right. The more reason to see her as badass.  At this point the villainous Walder Frey is the latest to have a mouthful of both his oldest sons and the end of her blade as he bleeds out beneath her smiling gaze at the very table he sat while he watched over the slaughter of what was believed to be left of the Starks.

At least we know that’s not the case seeing as Jon Snow and Sansa Stark have vanquished the abominable Ramsay Bolton and taken back their home of Winterfell, meanwhile Benjen has brought young Bran as close to the wall as his now undead body can permit him to. The war between the living and the dead is coming and I have a strong feeling the entire armies of Westeros will have no choice than to band together to defeat this seemingly world ending foe, I mean the armies of the North alone can’t possibly defeat that undead horde and Daenerys’ dragon will no doubt help in finishing things off a bit faster.

Speaking of Targaryens our R + L = J theorists finally have their victory. Jon ‘fucking’ Snow is apparently Rheagar’s son and if a marriage was actually held while Robert’s rebellion was going on is the true and legitimate heir to the seven kingdoms. That’s not something dear Daenerys will be happy with once she finds out.

Now here are my concerns for specific characters going forward;

We know Daenerys has her alliance with the Greyjoys, Tyrells & Martels, her unsullied army, her Dothrakis and her dragons while Jon Snow has the armies of the North. What does Cersie have asides the Lannister armies? Despite being the Queen of the seven Kingdoms Cersie has surely gained more enemies than friends with the burning of the Balor and the eradication of the faith militant who it is widely believed stood for the people.

Now it seems most people have missed the key fact that Westeros is broke and the last official to seek money from the Bravoosi bank was a Tyrell so Kings Landing might be in more trouble than Cersie  imagined going into season seven next year.

Then there is the duplicitous and snaky Little finger who still has designs on occupying the iron throne. I have to say that I once admired little finger for his cunning before but at this point I believe he’s currently living on borrowed time if only Sansa can muster the courage to have the knights of the Vale move against him for killing the mother of their current Lord.

Other minor plots I look forward to seeing further unfold in season seven have to do with the Hound and his choice to join the brotherhood without banners, Sam Tarly’s adventures in old town and Jora Mormmoth’s quest for a cure to his grey scale infection. Over all despite the slow build up in this season I think it was well worth it and stands out as one of the best seasons of GOT so far even if it were only for The battle of the Bastards episode and the first twenty minutes of the season finale (talk about Michael Corleone in Kings Landing).