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Posts posted by Mandard

  1. For the new characters, Stannis and Davos are pretty good. I did picture Melisandre as somewhat more exotic but I don't mind too much. She seems mysterious enough to suit the character. Balon Greyjoy was fine, but I thought Asha (err...Yara, I think? that name change threw me) was way off. I pictured her as much leaner and tougher, a real hard-ass. The girl they used seemed kinda...soft and friendly? I dunno, she didn't have much time so maybe she'll be better but that's the first character to really clash with my book image. Of course, I watched last season's premiere before reading the book so except for the few that didn't show up until later, I automatically pictured the show characters, which was convenient.

  2. My thoughts on Best Picture nominees in order of preference (excluding Extremely Loud which I haven't seen because I wasn't interested):


    War Horse - Not very impressed by this. Some nice cinematography was its best point. Otherwise, this movie was muddled in so many ways. Plot silliness, poorly developed characters, uneven tone. Sometimes it's a light, almost fantasy mood and sometimes it's gritty war realism...but don't worry, not TOO gritty because it still needs to be feel-good! I don't think it should have been even close to nominated.


    Moneyball - Not much to say about Moneyball. It was quite good, just didn't like it as much as the others. It doesn't bother me as a nominee as much as War Horse but I was kind of surprised it got in.


    The Artist - I have a soft spot for silent movies, so watching this was a delightful experience. And if things had gone as expected, it'd be an obscure, underrated gem of a film. But as it is, it's now been elevated to the level of a Best Picture favorite. Apparently, the only thing Hollywood loves more than Hollywood, is Old Hollywood. I feel bad for such a charming film...but there's just not that much here. Not enough to justify Best Picture. I only have minor criticisms of the film itself, such as some scenes in the later parts that felt overplayed, but in the end it's just a light-hearted lark. Nothing wrong with that, but man, Hollywood REALLY loves itself.


    The Help - Solid movie, some great performances. I suppose my main problem with this is how "easy" it is. This isn't exactly groundbreaking territory and Hollywood has always loved showing how awesome they are in making statements against racism. It seems like any movie with a race element has a difficult time not being heavy-handed or manipulative. I dunno, maybe that's unfair to this movie because it was really well-done, but perhaps just a lighter touch, a little more nuance, would have made a big difference for me.


    Midnight in Paris - Often enough, Woody Allen films don't feel the need to lead up to a "point". Which is fine. Not all movies need an easy take-home message. But it was satisfying when Owen Wilson's character actually came around to an endpoint. Allen's pretty reliable at coming up with nice, pleasant stories with interesting characters and witty dialogue, and Midnight is no exception, but it's nice to see him remember that a simple, solid character arc can go a long way.


    Descendants - I've sometimes gone back and forth on Clooney, but here's just about the best I've seen him. Great supporting characters, the right amount of light comedy interspersed throughout what could have been a too somber movie. Pretty solid all around.


    Tree of Life - I couldn't really fault anyone for not liking, or even hating, this movie. It's certainly not mainstream. But I'm often a sucker for wildly ambitious movies, even when they're not completely successful. There's something very appealing when a movie has me in a place where I have no idea where it's going. Not just story-wise, but simply not following any standard pattern or formula. Tree of Life definitely has its flaws, like the modern sequences with Sean Penn that don't seem to belong, but it's a film that stuck with me and had me thinking about it long after it was over.


    Hugo - Great movie. My favorite of the nominees. Fun, magical, etc, etc. No major criticisms. Even the 3D was more effective than I expected, although I remain a 2D-preferrer. Uhh...guess I don't have much more to say. Go see it cause it's good...?


    And finally, for the If I Were In Charge award, my personal favorite movie of 2011 (so far, since I still have many left to see) is A Separation. It's a fantastic Iranian film and it's nominated in the Foreign category. Seriously, you guys, it's like so good. Totally worth seeing if you can.

  3. I still think International House of Porkins is "haha, that'd be funny for like a day or two" rather than a cool permanent thing, but whatever, it's just a name. Porkins was successfully denied for 11 years so SUCK ON THAT, FATTIE REBEL SCUM!


    My goodness. 10 years and running and you're STILL freaking annoying.

    Aww, I didn't know you cared.


    And I will go down to my last dying breath claiming that Porkins was nothing but fat Rebel scum. Your scorn means nothing to me!

  4. Oh wow, I just watched this last week. Yeah, this was fantastic. The top-notch animation is always expected, but I was very pleased with the characters and the simple but engaging story. And yeah, it's got a great soundtrack. May not be fair to say a "return to form" for Ghibli, but I personally wasn't a huge fan of either Howl's or Ponyo (and I'm ignoring Earthsea) so it was satisfying to see a really captivating effort from them. It definitely ranks as one of my favorites from Ghibli.


    Interesting to note that it has a first-time director, Yonebayashi, so it's hard to say how much was him and how much was Miyazaki (who still wrote and produced) but maybe this guy could be the one to carry on the legacy. It's certainly an impressive debut.

  5. Netflix actually has a long history of floundering and responding to customer feedback.


    I don't think I'd agree. They've certainly annoyed the more hardcore users along the way, which may have been questionable, but it never really hurt them since those users were only small but vocal minorities and also tended to be the most unprofitable customers. It's only with the recent moves that they've pissed off the rank-and-file.

  6. Victory is ours! Qwikster is no more.


    Although seriously, what a fiasco. It should not have been difficult to see the problems with the split. I'm tempted to go ahead and cancel streaming anyways now that I've thought about how little I use it. I can always add it back later when their selection improves.

  7. I had no problem with the price change. The press release and PR crap was annoying but whatever, companies love to try and spin. The price hike itself was something I always expected was coming. Clearly, they were just building up streaming to the point where they could justify charging for it. That's how things work.


    But this Qwikster split? Wow, I don't know. Again, it's something that I knew would happen eventually, but this seems way too early to make the split. Their streaming just doesn't have the selection. Sure, there's a lot stuff there but it's still only a fraction of the full library. For me there's a huge difference between "a lot of things" and "all the things". There was never any question of keeping the mailing side. I'm a movie guy and if there's a movie I want to see, then I want it. Period. More often than not, streaming fails to deliver that. I was okay with paying to keep streaming as a useful add-on, but as a stand-alone service I'm not so sure. Ratings won't be shared, searches won't be shared, they're going to be two completely separate services. This looks like a dealbreaker for me. With such limited selection, I just don't get that much out of streaming and making it that much less convenient to use tips the scales.


    Which means I would be cancelling Netflix, not Qwikster, which is weirdly depressing for me. I've been with Netflix since 2002 and did my fair share of evangelizing among family and friends. And now I'm just a customer of...Qwikster? Y U MAKE ME SAD NETFLIX. :sad:

  8. Well...that was interesting. (seriously, don't read until you're done)


    So Jon goes down. Dammit, what the HELL. Martin is sadistic. Or maybe he's not dead...? I read it a bunch of times and it seemed pretty decisive, but I suppose you never know. If he is, then WTF happens on the Wall without him? Seems like it'll just be pure chaos with the wildlings, especially if Stannis is really gone, which I'm guessing isn't true since we didn't see it, but who the hell knows. Stannis never struck me as a character who would make it to the end anyway. But yeah, if that's it for Jon, what a depressing way for him to go. I actually think this was more shocking than Ned or the Red Wedding. Ned was already in a pretty dire place and it was pretty strongly telegraphed that something bad was about to go down at the Red Wedding. I suppose Martin had a few hints for this (like Ghost) and I think I could have handled Jon going down sometime later, like in the last book or something in a blaze of glory. But right at the moment, man, that was seriously out of nowhere. HARSH.

    (Edit: I wanted to come back to add that if Jon isn't actually dead, which appears to be the prevailing view among readers, it pretty severely lowers my already-rather-low opinion of this book. I expect better than cheap gimmicks.)


    (Second Edit: After further research, oh right...warging into Ghost. Duh. I feel stupid for not thinking of that, particularly after the mostly-useless prologue segment. Okay, so if he's warged in Ghost, I guess it's not that bad of a gimmick...but I'd still think it's kinda cheap. :p)


    But right, there were other things that happened here.


    Pretty disappointed with Daenerys. Again. My favorite storyline from the first book continues to struggle. One solid scene with taming Drogon is nice, but I feel everything else was filler. I really don't give a crap about Meereen and the amount of time devoted to the various political and military machinations is frustrating and boring. Her apparent change of heart at the end was welcome but I feel it's a couple books too late.


    For the first time, Tyrion's storyline wasn't a standout for me. Pretty boring actually. He had a distinct lack of other major characters to work off of, which was disappointing. Sullen Mormont doesn't get it done. And I'm not sure about Penny. I rolled my eyes at the idea of her being introduced as a love interest, but it doesn't seem to be going that direction. Or maybe it is. Whatever. Either way, not a particularly interesting character.


    Theon was...not too bad here. More interesting than Book 2, so I guess I'll count that as a win.


    Arya and Bran...I don't know, guys. I feel like they're completely wasted. They're effectively in completely different stories that happen to occur in the same universe. Dammit, start with the convergences, Martin!


    The new Aegon plotline was an interesting twist. Doesn't seem all that engaging as yet but hopefully that develops in the next ones.


    Still only a tease on zombie Catelyn. He's really holding that back. And as expected, Brienne is still alive and kicking.


    And just a few chapters before the end I had been thinking about what a shame we haven't seen Varys at all, then bam, there he is! Good ole Varys, stirring sh*t up.


    So yeah, there were some strong moments, but on the whole, I find this book to be lacking. Better than AFFC, but whatever magic Martin had going a decade ago feels lost. Way too many chapters left me with a "so what" feeling. Like AFFC, most of this book feels bogged down with minutiae that just isn't very interesting. I suppose some of it's necessary setup for later, but it gets tiresome. Too many minor characters, too many subplots, too much time when things just aren't HAPPENING. This was not the case in the first three books. Maybe this is all just a problem of "the gap" and these two books were just filling out the interlude before getting back into the meat of things. It did end with some stronger chapters, so I'm still hoping for better with the next installments. Hopefully he doesn't take too long.

  9. Ok so I have a question, and if it's a spoiler of some sort, hopefully it's minor enough that I get an answer. So when Robert died, Ned basically had 2 letters. The one from Robert providing the authority for Ned to be steward of the realm until his son was "of age." Ned used that temporary power to basically summon Robert's brother as heir to the throne and gave that letter to a "trusted" messenger to get that to him. The letter signed by Robert obviously was shredded up by the Queen and we witnessed that, but WTF happened tot he other letter? Is Robert's brother en route with another army to try to claim the throne?


    As much as what had happened they just plain didn't visit this part as a chain of events since Robert died, and I was curious if it just fell into a black hole on purpose??

    I don't think it's much of a spoiler to say that yes, Robert's brother Stannis does become involved as a significant character. It was not just a throwaway reference.

  10. Not sure I'd agree with that. I read Game of Thrones over a weekend last month. True, it took me more than 10 hours to do it, but I felt it moved much faster than the show. I do like the TV series a lot, but one minor complaint is that with all the added new scenes I feel it's moving a bit slow. When I read the book, particularly in the second half, events were moving so fast I felt I could barely keep up. I don't quite get the same urgency from the show.


    Although to be fair, since most of the story would be "review" for you now, your experience might be very different.

  11. Wait, really? Does the general consensus actually think she's dead? I have a hard time believing that. I thought it seemed pretty clear that there was going to be a last-second reprieve. As frustrating as Book 4 was, I can't imagine that Martin made her a POV character and devoted all that time to her wandering around doing nothing only to get rid of her.


    Also, I'm pretty sure Ryn hasn't read the books and was just drunk posting. :D

  12. I started reading the series after watching the first TV episode. Just finished up Book 4.


    Book 1 was my favorite. Solid from beginning to end. Books 2 and 3 were a little shakier at times, particularly in the earlier sections, but both finished up very strongly in their second halves.


    Book 4 could not have been more disappointing. I was aware going in that this one was only "half" the story, but still, I can't find any excuse for all the dithering around in this one. I'm sitting here in my mind comparing the events of this one to the previous books and it feels like a joke. How can you write so much and have so little actually happen? I have to believe he just has too much going on, to the point he's struggling to put it all together and still keep it engaging for the reader. Major arcs from the previous books are all but abandoned. Arya only gets a couple chapters. Same with Sansa. And after cliffhanging with Cat in Book 3, she only makes one small appearance here. While Brienne, who I was happy to see included as a main since I love her character, gets tons of pagetime...and wastes pretty much all of it wandering around doing nothing significant. Cersei also gets a ton. Unfortunately, while I liked her as a crazy, evil bitch, I always believed she was a cunning and shrewd crazy-bitch. All we see here is that she's a complete idiot. Maybe other people enjoyed her, but I found her sections tiresome. It's sad that despite Jaime's chapters being far less interesting than the ones in Book 3, they were still the "highlight" of this book. And the Dorne and Ironmen segments are clearly just filler segments for plot points that at some point will be important, but currently don't warrant any characters major enough to focus on. I could not get through them fast enough.


    Here's hoping Book 5 is much better.

  13. I think Tank just wanted to get The Beaver off his list, which was almost certainly the worst pick by anyone in the entire thread. ;)


    Fast Five will make around $200M. The last one made $155M. The original actually adjusts to $200M. It's not a sleeper, just performing better than expected for a fifth installment of a non-A-list franchise.

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