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The Walking Dead.

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Rating 4 stars.

Reviews

The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season– Glenn Heath Jr.

The Walking Dead: The Complete Second Season- Glenn Heath Jr.

The Walking Dead: Season Three

I’ve been taking mental and verbal notes as I watch the show, and I’ve noticed some interesting variation on the current zombie motif (a la Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead, and Boyle’s 28 Days Later)- (1) slow zombies, (2) no blood splattered or otherwise non-bite type infections (this isn’t the case within the zombie world of course, one can still become infected by blood splatter, but no-one does).  Why these changes? The trailer for World War Z shows (as do Boyle’s and Snyder’s films), that fast zombies, who are highly infectious create a world where survivors are rare, if non-existent, they only survive in cases that they do, because of movie convention; we don’t see these character for very long, their story arches are short. Whereas with The Walking Dead we have to follow these characters for months, maybe years – if they were getting infected every time they stabbed a zombie in the head, and got blood on themselves, nobody would be alive, similarly with swarming fast zombies, viz the World War Z trailer –  escape is impossible. Having said this though, these aren’t complaints, I like that the characters I love don’t die, and that they get to expel some of the frustrations they, and indeed I, have at the relentless tide of death, that is a zombie world. More over, and moving to my next point, it allows the show to play on another movie convention, that of “hero” characters, that is; characters that, by these later seasons, can take on a group of zombies, or an overrun facility of them (such as the prison in S3) and come out on top – these are the kinds of characters that level armies, on their own. I totally dig that development. It’s done, as far as I can see, for two reasons (1) movie convention, and (2) growth of the characters. (1) We want to see these character develop, to become something other than what they were, as with Buffy and such shows, these characters usually only evolve upwards (or they die), this gives the actors and the show room to grow.  (2): even within the context of the series the growth makes sense. Think of any war veteran currently living, any soldier who has fought – it’s hard to imagine anybody living now, has as much sheer combat time as the survivors in this show (when we think of combat time as “time spent in a combat zone”). These people may have started out as teachers, lawyers, slackers, but those who survive in this world, become killers, trained, lethal, efficient killers, who survive by their very skills, it’s not unreasonable to think of them as terminators.

This leads me to another interesting aspect of the show – its moral dilemmas. In a world gone to Hell, what makes the most difference – survival of the fittest? Or a strict moral code? Is there a common ground between those viewpoints? The main characters in the show adhere to their moral principles, either by chance or design – even if they are altered somewhat. But, we see this is their strength. Most people they come across attempt to kill them to take their resources, whereas these people negotiate, debate and respect decisions of those they come in contact with – this creates bargaining, and mutually beneficial relationships. Moreover, it creates a bond between the characters that means they become a cohesive attack unit when on the offensive, and indeed defensive. Each character cares for and feels responsible for the other, which sometimes leads to self-sacrifice to save the group, other times to save members when it may not be convenient to do so. Then things like childbirth, the re-population of the species becomes tenable, within this community – and this becomes even another strength. Having children, and a home to defend gives the group something to fight for: new life, and a new life. These are things scavengers who betray each other and everybody else cannot do. Moreover, as Rick’s son Carl demonstrates, a child can become a lethal killing machine by  a very early age – given that they have been on the run for a few years thus far, if they all had children, they could create a working support network of able-bodied killers within years, this is a long-term goal obviously, with its own risks, but again, something  community can do, that survival of the fittest mentalities cannot.

Season3 has been a real rip snorter – Season 2 was definitely more character driven, which might irritate some, but it was about them feeling like the farm was a new home – their naivete nearly cost them their lives, and we might see that as the point of that season, which they are correcting in S3. Now they are about fortifying their surroundings, protecting their members, adding to them, and surviving. Given the conflict with Woodbury, and the lethality of the main characters the series is becoming even better, as we see the drama of a close-nit group of killers.

 

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Prometheus.

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Rating 2.5 stars.

Reviews

Prometheus– Rogert Ebert.

Prometheus -John Semely.

I, just like so many other nerd boys eagerly awaited Ridley Scott’s Alien prequel-but-not-quite-but-is. The man that started a new wave of thrillers has come back to the genre to redefine it for a new age of cinema, and as far as we look at the movie, without any investigation into it’s themes, it is a success. Technically brilliant, we haven’t seen a movie look like this from Scott in a long time (Blade Runner?, Black Hawk Down? Gladiator?),  I’ve felt as if he rushes his production somewhat, churning out a movie a year, or every second seems to hurt the veneer of his films (I felt Robin Hood missed a certain gloss on screen). Maybe that was the point. In Prometheus however we are transported to the kind of ideal we expect from Hollywood, roaming vistas,  an epic score, clean images, with detailed nuance; when we say a picture is worth a thousand words, we really mean it in this movie. The ship, the planet, even Earth are masterfully shot, the CG impeccable, we see Scott went the whole way with the visuals.

The script, is less impressive. Characterization is either non-existent or bizarre, characters act in ways in which their motives are hard to understand, for example David poisoning Charlie with the alien ‘goo’, was he prompted to do so by Weyland? If that is so, why did the writers put in the supposed conflict between Charlie and David? To somehow suggest David would be eager to perform this horrible task? Is it some call back to Ian Holm’s faulty android in Alien? When you have such a high budget and limited time to tell a story, one wonders why such seemingly incoherent, or at least, hard to grasp narration is put forth.

To me however, all that is less important as the metaphysical questions it tries to address. Some might suggest we need give Prometheus points for simply tackling origin of life stories, but why? I can sit in my room and ask why, that does not make me profound. Directed panspermia, and biogenesis might seem interesting to your average film viewer who has never taken a second to look at these issues, but once you have you see the movie falls short. So much of the film is spent looking for our creator/s, and of course we find them in the ‘engineers’. But here is when we start asking more questions than we get answers. Why do the engineers have the same appearance as us? Yes they started life on this planet, but we do not look the same as all creatures on this planet,  evolution has altered whatever the original molecules of life were, this appears to be simply a cinematic device at the sake of coherency. Only in a couple of scenes is the “who created the creator?” issue tackled, that if the engineers created us, who created them? And if we don’t get answers to this question we are left to wonder why the question was asked to begin with. Perhaps the writers have an anti-scientific agenda to push, after all their scientists in this movie plan to reject a couple of hundred years of confirmed Darwinism (as one of the other scientific characters points out), only with the thesis “I don’t know if it’s true, but I have faith it is.” What scientist would think like this? A creation one, maybe. Which brings me back to why this film erked me so much. With so much anti-science propaganda in the world today, why do we need top-level films expressing and perpetuating this? Yet another example of bizarre characterization.

Ultimately it’s a simple Hollywood science fiction movie, which tries to play around with themes it’s writers aren’t capable of doing well, which the film suffers for. But, having said that, it is pretty, and progresses the Alien mythos more, and that in and of itself will make for some fun discussion with your friends in your living room. Even if the rest of it makes you want to cut yourself.