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GAME OF THRONES Season 1 Review & Episode Scores

GoT Season 1 Review Episode Rankings

Welcome to our Season 1 review of HBO’s Game Of Thrones! Great fantasies have humble beginnings, though it sure didn’t take Thrones very long to prove itself a heavyweight among screen sagas. This first season is where it all began: an expansive and captivating batch of 10 episodes that merely set the stage for even grander seasons to come. Here is a brief summary of the methodology behind the system used to score each episode:

Every story line in every episode has been scored from 1-5 in three areas: Story, World-building, and Entertainment. Why? Because those categories capture the primary elements that allow Game Of Thrones to deliver such consistently thrilling television! The scores for each story line were added up and normalized to a 100-point scale to determine each episode’s score. This process allowed us to not only determine the best season of Game Of Thrones, but also to create a definitive ranking of every episode in the series based on the three main factors that make the show so great.

Without further ado…

[1.01] Winter Is Coming

Game of Thrones, Winter is Coming, Jon Snow Read more…

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SOLO

solo star wars story poster

A little more than thirteen years ago, when we were all waiting for Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith to come out, I remember having a very specific idea of what I wanted out of that movie. I was in high school. A rather zealous Original Trilogy fan, and probably still working out some slightly more complicated feelings about Episode I and Episode II, I probably knew that what I wanted couldn’t have made any sense in the context of the prequel trilogy. What did I want? I wanted young Han. I can’t remember if I was specific enough to include the Kessel Run in my wish list, but some depiction of Han, Chewie, and Lando in their smuggling heyday was the object of my desire.

Against all odds, the Millennium Falcon AND Chewbacca actually did make it into Episode III. Needless to say, Han and Lando did not. Even with the promise of illuminating the last major shadows of Darth Vader’s past, I knew, even then, that the quasi-political mumbo-jumbo of the prequels was not exactly what I wanted.

Thirteen-plus years later, it’s pretty amazing that we now have an entire movie devoted to Han’s twenties (and possibly more to come). Now that we have Solo, here’s a quick look back at my personal hype cycle for Solo:

  1. 2005: Episode III, or: wanting Solo when I knew it was practically impossible
  2. 2005-2011: Pre-Marvel Interregnum, or: seriously considering that Star Wars might be dead as a movie franchise
  3. 2012: The Disney Purchase, or: fairly pumped, but expecting, rightly, that Star Wars would revert to a Force/Skywalker-centric episodes
  4. July 2015: First Solo Announcement, or: honestly, shockingly, kinda having a bad feeling about this
  5. December 2015: The Force Awakens, or: confirmation that Star Wars was not only back, but still good
  6. 2016: Rogue One, or: more specifically, when Rogue One became a hit, thereby validating the concept of producing a Star Wars anthology series
  7. 2018: Solo Release, or: rediscovering that Solo, no matter how many production issues it had, was exactly the kind of movie I’d wanted when I was 15

Pretty surreal. Anyway, after all that, is Solo even good? The short answer is “yes,” and the long answer is still, mostly, “yes.” Solo is a very different Star Wars movie than any that have come before. Like Rogue One, Solo offers little more than passing allusions to any of the mystical elements that drive the numbered films.

Read more…

Altered Carbon (Season 1 Review)

Altered Carbon Netflix Title Card

It’s well-publicized at this point that Netflix expects around $8,000,000,000 (that’s 8 billion) of original content to debut in 2018, beefing up its library. Altered Carbon is arguably the current face of this expansion effort. The flashy and expensive-looking cyberpunk noir debuted in February. Altered Carbon offers a glimpse of what the future might hold, not only as sci-fi tends to do, but in terms of what Netlflix, as a full-fledged entertainment producer, has in store.

As a work of world-building centered around a top-shelf sci-fi concept, Altered Carbon delivers in spades. As is often the case with cyberpunk fare, Carbon leans heavily into the Blade Runner aesthetic—flush with neon-drenched and rain-soaked surfaces. Despite the all of the future-tech trappings, the world looks grungy and polluted, with the majority living in squalor while the wealthiest live on lush estates high above the ground.

Speaking of the elites, the world’s wealthiest form a god-like clique resembling the Greek gods atop Mount Olympus. Are they really gods? Well, that boils down to your definition, for what the fat cats lack in divinity, they make up for in functional immortality and the utter lack of accountability for their actions. Immortality has been achieved through human consciousnesses being digitized and imbued within a cortical stack, a piece of tech embedded in the vertebrae. With enough money, a person can pay to back-up their stack, allowing them to revert to their latest back-up in the event of their death. “Real Death,” or “RD” as the characters refer to it, is no longer a concept the super-rich are required to reckon with. Read more…

Ranking The GAME OF THRONES Episodes (Introduction)

Game of thrones notebook

The Game Of Thrones finale (Season 8) is still more than a year away. Whatever shall we do in the meantime? How about developing a rubric and using it to rank every Game Of Thrones episode in existence, and by extension, the seasons? Yes, that’s what we’ll do. Read on for the introduction and methodology.

Seven seasons and 67 episodes in (and eagerly awaiting the eighth), Game Of Thrones has had a singularly amazing and inspirational run. It is a unique and wonderful entertainment experience for a number of reasons including memorable characters, a propulsive story, and immersive world-building, not to mention pure entertainment value, with the added spectacle of medieval fantasy.

A few other websites have compiled a ranked list such as what we will have forthcoming on this site. These lists are always fun to read and compare, but most of them don’t express any kind of methodology behind the rankings. They have ultimately inspired me to design a rubric of my own for ranking the episodes, and by extension, the seasons. Read more…

A.I.: Spielberg vs. Kubrick

AI Artificial Intelligence flesh fair

Is “A.I. Artificial Intelligence” more an example of Spielberg doing Kubrick, or Kubrick doing Spielberg?

As Steven Spielberg owns sole credit for both the screenplay and direction of A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001), the answer to the above question may seem obvious. Upon closer examination, it gets murkier.

A.I. Artificial Intelligence began as Stanley Kubrick’s concept for a science-fiction take on Pinocchio. The story kernel: a fake boy wishes he were a real boy. In the case of A.I., the fake boy is a robot rather than a marionette. In Kubrick’s words, “a picaresque robot version of Pinocchio.”

Kubrick, with such renowned speculative works as 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), and A Clockwork Orange (1971) already under his belt, likely had the project penciled in as a possible follow-up to Clockwork. Obviously, and for a variety of reasons, this did not come to pass. Read more…

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

I’ve seen Star Wars: The Last Jedi twice now. I had initially planned to rush out a hasty review, but I knew I wanted to see it again, and now here we are. Here are my thoughts on the latest Star Wars movie:

“Let the past die. Kill it, if you have to.”

This Kylo Ren line has been getting a lot run in the deluge of reviews and think-pieces written in the wake of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the eighth numbered episode in the saga. This one from Yoda is just as good:

“We are what they grow beyond. That is the burden of all masters.”

Whichever you prefer, each is a nice one-off line that also serves as a meta-message to the audience in today’s self-aware blockbuster age. With as much lore and time-tested fan devotion as Star Wars has, a very important question now and moving forward will be—how much does “new Star Wars” have to resemble “old Star Wars” to still be good? The Last Jedi while still paying clear fealty to the original trilogy, seems to have primed the franchise to grow beyond its master.

Along this line of thinking, The Force Awakens was a mixed bag. I loved it, but at times, the parallels to the original classic were so surface-level, that it felt like Star Wars Mad Libs. Despite delivering a thrilling, energetic reintroduction to the saga, it still ruffled some feathers. If The Force Awakens felt like an announcement that Star Wars would eventually jump light years ahead with its new batch of characters, The Last Jedi feels like the franchise finally being ready to burst down the door to a new, broader Star Wars universe. Mission accomplished. The world is now a Star Wars sandbox, and we’re all just living in it.

To unpack everything that’s great about The Last Jedi is to consider the possibility that it is the greatest Star Wars movie to date, period. On the other hand, to unpack all the things that weren’t so great, would be to consider that it is more on par with the prequel trilogy. It’s not perfect, but The Last Jedi reaches a few rarefied heights that allow it to transcend any unevenness and land among the better Star Wars movies so far. Read more…