Game of Thrones – Season Four Episode 9

got4This past weekend, the penultimate episode of Season Four of GOT aired, and an event which was a long time in coming was finally showed. Yes, after two seasons of build-up, the Wildlings under “King” Mance Rayder’s leadership, assaulted the Wall. Strangely, Mance was nowhere to be seen during this assault, but from the way they ended the episode, I’m sure we’ll be hearing from him soon enough. And as usual, I got some bones to pick with the writers, but not the same reasons others have.

After this weekend’s episode aired, a common thing I noticed from the critics was the statement that the attack on the Wall was no “Blackwater Bay”. Much like Season Two’s smash-up where Stannis and his armies lay siege to King’s Landing, the entire episode was dedicated to this one battle and those involved. And while it didn’t exactly have the same epic scope and grandeur as that battle, I think this is an unfair comparison.

One cannot expect a massive siege every season! It’s just not cost effective. No, in the end, I felt this battle fell a bit short because of the way they changed things around in the story, not to mention the way they shot the whole thing. By the time things really got started, I wasn’t sure if I was watching GOT or Lord of the Rings. Somehow, it felt like Peter Jackson was at the helm and not George RR Martin. But first, a recap…

The Watchers on the Wall:
GOT4_9_1The episode begins with Jon and Samwell standing atop the Wall and discussing love. Sam asks what it was like being with Ygritte, while once again lamenting the fact that he left Gilly at Moletown, where he suspects she died. Jon sends Sam below to get some rest, but he instead goes to the library to learn what Wildlings are known to do to their captives. Aemon finds him and they spend the time talking of lost love.

Going back outside, Sam comes to the gate in time to see Gilly knocking at Castle Black’s gate and asking to be let in. After convincing the Brother guarding it to let her in, he tells her they will never be apart again. Their reunion is interrupted when they hear a horn sound. From atop the Wall, Jon and the other brothers spot a massive forest fire looming in the distance. Mance’s signal to attack is issued, and thousands of Wildlings, giants and mammoths form up.

GOT4_9_2Under the command of Ser Alliser Thorne, the Brothers begin preparing their defenses, and he takes a moment to let Jon know that he will be equal to the task of leading them. The mammoths move forward to the gate while other Wildlings begin scaling the Wall. Sam places Gilly in a chamber below and locks the door, telling her she must hide and he must stand with his Brothers. He kisses her goodbye, and she makes him promise he won’t die.

South of the Wall, Ygritte, Tormund, the Thenns and their raiding party are preparing to make their assault. While they wait for Mance to send the signal – “the biggest fire the North has ever seen”. When they spot it, they launch their attack on Castle Black’s gates. Sam and the others let loose on them with arrows, but are quickly overtaken as the Wildling party moves in and scales the short walls that guard the southern approach.

GOT4_9_4Hearing of the attack on the Castle, Thorne goes below to organize the defense, leaving Slynt in charge. Below, two giants lead a mammoth to the gate and hitch ropes from its harness the doors, intending to pull it off. Slynt quickly proves unequal to the task of leading the defense and begins muttering about how it was so much easier commanding the Kingsguard. Grenn then tricks Slynt and tells him he’s needed below too, which leaves Jon in charge.

Relying on the lessons he learned during his time among them, Jon has his archers fire arrows onto those scaling the Wall and drops barrels on those at the gate. Below, the battle in Castle Black’s courtyard turns bad. The brothers lose many men, Thorne is injured and incapacitated, and Slynt runs and locks himself in the same room as Gilly. Jon decides to go below with Grenn and some others, and orders Eddison to unleash fire on the mammoths.

GOT4_9_3This he does, which kills most of the Wildlings and sends the mammoth running. One of the two giants is then killed by a Scorpion up on the Wall, sending the other into a rage and leading him to begin prying the gate open with his bare hands. Jon arrives below and tells Grenn and the others to get to the gate an hold it at all costs. He then has Sam unlock Ghost from his cage and begins fighting his way through the Wildlings.

In a pitch fight, Jon kills Styr (the leader of the Thenn party) with a blacksmith’s hammer and comes face to face with Ygritte, who has her bow drawn on him. She hesitates to shoot him, and is then shot with an arrow through the chest by Olly, the young boy who mans the elevator. She dies, repeating the same words she said to him, time and time again: “You know nothing, Jon Snow.” Inside the Wall gate, the giant breaks through and attacks Grenn and his brothers. They die holding the giant off.

got4_9_5Up top, Eddis sees that they only have the few Wildlings scaling the Wall to deal with, and orders that they drop the “Scythe” – a large metal blade at the end of a chain that combs the wall when released. This kills the remaining attackers, and the rest fall back. In the courtyard, Tormund is wounded and captured, and Jon orders him put in chains. Sam returns below to find Gilly safe, and Slynt cowering in the corner.

Surveying the damage, Jon tells Sam that this was just the first assault, and that Mance will break through before long if they allow him to continue. He then tells Sam that he will meet with Mance, during which time he will attempt to kill him so that the Wildlings once again become divided. They head to for the gate, where they find the bodies of Grenn, the giant, and the others who died holding it. Sam orders the gate opened and says goodbye to Jon.

Summary:
Well, the episode certainly was fun and entertaining. One can’t deny that an incredible amount of time, effort, and good direction went into making it. And it did manage to capture the spirit, if not the letter, of the battle as it was described in the book. But as usual, there were some things that bothered to me that had to do with changes, not to mention how those changes affected the feel and flow of things. Here’s what they were, in chronological order…

First, there was no last-minute reunion between Sam and Gilly. She had been at the castle for some time, and a romance had not quite budded between them. Second, Tormund, Ygritte and the Wildling raider party had already assaulted Castle Black at this point in advance of Mance’s main assault. Having struck at Castle Black days before, they were thwarted by a great deal of ingenuity and booby traps, which were installed thanks to Jon’s help.

Third, there was none of this shuffling around of commanders in the novels. While it is true that Thorne and Slynt did not trust Jon, he was still put in charge of the Wall’s defenses since he had intimate knowledge of Mance’s plan of attack, and because Aemon on his Brothers vouched for him. It was not the case that he had it thrust on him because Thorne had to go below, or because Slynt was a coward. This last aspect they really played up, and it felt like it was just to give us someone to hate.

Fourth, two decidedly cheesy moments happened in this battle. The first was where Sam narrowly managed to get his crossbow loaded in time to take down a Wildling. The second – and by far, the worst – was Ollie going from a frightened little boy who couldn’t stand the sound of fighting to grabbing a bow and killing Ygritte with it. This more than anything was like a scene out of Jackson’s LOTR. It wasn’t nearly as bad as Legolas riding a shield down a set of steps like it was a skateboard, but still!

Fifth, Tormund was not taken prisoner during the battle. After losing his attack force south of the Wall, he fled north again and began rallying Wildlings later. Ever since, even as far as book V, he has not been heard from. And finally, Jon Snow did not decide to venture out and assassinate Mance once the battle was over. In fact, it was Slynt’s idea to send him out in the hopes that he would die while attempting to kill Mance.

You see, after the battle, Slynt and his allies were still nominally in charge since no new Lord Commander had been elected. And he would go on to be a pain in Jon’s ass since he didn’t trust him and saw him as a threat to his possible leadership. However, the way they’ve presented him here, as an incompetent coward, is melodramatic to say the least. It also kind of complicated the plot now, since Slynt disgraced himself for all to see.

In short, it felt like they were trying to sex things up from the original material; but really, I only felt like they dumbed it down. Many things they did get right, like the way the giants penetrated into the gate, or how Ygritte died with Jon standing over her and crying. They also captured the defenders sense of desperation, knowing that they were vastly outnumbered, but still protecting by the Wall’s defenses. And I have to say that this was one episode this season that didn’t bore or disappoint the hell out of me.

Still… where the hell was Mance this whole time? Has anyone else noticed he completely disappeared after his brief appearance last season? He better show up next week, as he’s kind of intrinsic to the plot!

The Hobbit Deleted Scene

the_hobbit_an_unexpected_journey_movie-HDNo kidding! Despite the fact that Peter Jackson took a relatively compact book, cut it into three, and filled the edges with enough chaff and filler from the appendixes to turn it into three movies, it seems that are still some scenes that didn’t make beyond the cutting room floor. And this is one such clip that is making the rounds on the internet lately.

The clip comes from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey DVD release, which apparently has all kinds of behind-the-scenes stuff (no surprises there). If there’s one thing Peter Jackson likes to talk about, whether its on his website or with DVD extras, its all the time he spent behind the camera and the things he did.

In any case, this scene involved Bilbo and Elrond speaking in Rivendell. Not a lot goes on, but then again, that’s probably why it didn’t make it into the final cut. And its still enjoyable. Check it out!


Source:
IO9.com

New Trailer: The Hobbit – The Desolation of Smaug

The_Hobbit_-_The_Desolation_of_Smaug_Teaser_PosterWhile I have yet to see the first installment, and generally disapproved of Peter Jackson’s decision to release this comparatively short story as a trilogy, I would be remiss if I didn’t post about the new trailer. And as you can from see from this 2 minute spot, the next installment promises plenty of action, adventure, and some serious divergences from the source material.

In the last movie, the characters had just survived their encounter with the cave Orcs, Bilbo found the One Ring and “won” it from Gollum, and the company was on its way to Mirkwood. In this installment, things appear to climax when the band of merry dwarves, a hobbit and a wizard reach Smaug’s lair. Some serious changes are showcased with the addition of Legolas (who wasn’t even in the first book), mini battles that didn’t happen, and lots more portentous talk that connects it all to the original trilogy.

And word around the campfire is this is what Jackson really has planned for the rest of the series – Game of Thrones-like diversions from Tolkien’s text that are clearly designed to sex the material up, hint at what was to come with the War of One Ring, and make the whole thing feel like a fantasy miniseries instead of a single story. While I’m sure I’m going to catch the entire trilogy at some point, I might sit the theatrical version out again…

But that’s just me! Enjoy the trailer and, if you’re so inclined, the movie on the silver screen!

How The Hobbit Should Have Ended

It’s been awhile since I checked HISHE, and it seems they tackled a few gems while I was out doing other things. The latest in their lineup is this, a parody on Peter Jackson’s latest adaptation from the Tolkien universe. While I have yet to see the movie, I read the book and am familiar with just about everything the movie did by reputation alone. And I think these guys stuck it pretty good, as usual!

In fact, I would recommend checking out the site when you’re done watching this video and seeing what they did for Lord of The Rings as well. Not only do they tie together, but are a pretty example of how a more sensible ending can cut down on some serious screen time!

Here in the link to the site. Enjoy the video!

New Hobbit Trailer!

The latest full-length trailer for the upcoming Hobbit movie has just been released. And I think you’ll agree, it’s way more lavish and teaser-oriented than the last. Damn studios, always gotta dangle the carrot in front of our noses! This time around, they focus more on the action and sense of crisis, especially where Ogres are concerned. And from what I can tell, this first installment will climax during the battle in the Misty Mountains, where the company came upon a cave filled with Orcs.

This is also the first time since LOTR that Gollum is being shown, and the little game he and Bilbo played – which resulted in him taking the One Ring – is revealed. Also, be sure to let me know what you think about the apparent changes Jackson is making by including Galadriel and providing hints of what was to come in LOTR. These, for the most part and to the best of my knowledge, weren’t part of the original story. Is he just thickening the plot a little, or taking liberties he shouldn’t?

The Hobbit will be a Trilogy

Some recent news has come in over the wire concerning the upcoming Tolkien adaptation. After much anticipation and a few snippets released from the studio as teaser trailers, Peter Jackson has announced that the upcoming Hobbit movie will in fact be a trilogy. Hints to that effect were dropped at the recent San Diego Comic Con, and now Peter Jackson has gone ahead and confirmed it.

Previously, he had indicated that two films would be needed to adapt this classic story to the big screen, but now it appears that the big time movie director/producer is going to need one more to make it all happen. Citing plot necessity and fan response, Jackson claimed that much of the added footage has to do with origin stories, background and character development for various characters in the story.

After meditating on the decision to go with a third movie or stick to the original plan for two, Jackson contended that, were they not to add in a third film, much about Bilbo, Gandalf, the Dwarves of Erebor, the Necromancer, and the climactic Battle of Dol Guldur would go untold. this corresponds to rumors that Jackson has been adding in a great deal of material to the story, relying on the LOTR appendices and background info which comes from that book.

Personally, I’m not sure what to make of this. Granted, it does kind of sound like an attempt to prolong the project and make more money, and Jackson is no stranger to padding movies with unnecessary flashbacks and cheesy cutaways to scenes with Arwen crying. But if Jackson has proven anything at this point, its just how dedicated he is to Tolkien’s creation and how much he wants to bring it all to life. So frankly, I see no reason to doubt him when he says he wants to tell the story and needs more screen time in order to do it.

In the meantime, check out the trailer of the upcoming movie!

The Real Robocop! Of A.I.D.’s and video hoaxes.

Not a bad video, and actually quite convincing. And yet, I couldn’t help but feel that there was something distinctly District 9-y about it. And wouldn’t you know it, I was right! The video’s director, Neill Blomkamp, was actually the man who gave Peter Jackson the concept for his 2009 movie District 9. Apparently, that film was based on Blomkamp’s earlier short film Alive in Joburg, which featured seamless blending of GGI with lo-fi documentary style shots. To anyone who has seen D9, this ought to sound familiar. The entire movie was shot in documetary style fashion, everything was made to look as real and gritty as possible, and the CGI blending was quite good! Unlike some other movies I could mention, here were visual effects that actually looked pretty real.

And as it turns out, this faux documentary piece about the Tetra Vaal corporation and the development of Artificial Intelligence Defense unit (A.I.D.) was one of the things that brought the Blomkamp to Jackson’s attention in the first place. Shot entirely with camcorders in the streets of Johannesburg’s poorer districts, Blomkamp and his team then added state of the art CGI to several scenes to simulate the robot and even used an animatronic stand-in for non-action shots for some added realism. Mock interviews completed the film, making it look and feel like it really was a documentary about a corporate concept.

Too bad too, I was hoping this was the real deal. And I’m sure some people still think it is, years later. But as they say, if it seems too cool to be true, probably is!