Back when THE LAST JEDI came out, here at WriteMovies we had mixed reactions. Just like millions of STAR WARS fans, we both loved and hated different parts of the film. This is certainly not the case for STAR WARS: ALWAYS, the latest material to be inspired by the franchise. Although not officially licensed by Disney, this new trailer is quickly making the rounds online. It’s five minutes long, and the only bad thing we can say about it is that it hasn’t been turned into a full-blown feature film yet.
The trailer was obviously made with nothing but pure, unadulterated love for the franchise. In fact, STAR WARS: ALWAYS was a combined effort between pro trailer editor Jeff Yorkes and actor/long-time Star Wars fanatic, Topher Grace. In a move that would have made his nerdy THAT 70s SHOW alter ego proud, Grace used Yorkes’ long-time expertise in condensing movie plots to create a working trailer for the greatest STAR WARS movie that never was. The goal of the trailer was simple: to envision the entire Star Wars narrative as a single movie.
In order to accomplish this, Grace and Yorkes took some of the best footage from all existing STAR WARS films, including the originals, the prequels, the sequels, ROGUE ONE, and even SOLO. Collider also noticed that they even managed to work in some deleted scenes from the franchise. Needless to say, it contains everything you’ve ever wanted to see in a STAR WARS movie. STAR WARS: ALWAYS begins with Luke Skywalker receiving Anakin’s lightsaber from Obi-Wan Kenobi, followed by flashbacks to the Clone Wars, tied together by scenes from ROGUE ONE. Han Solo’s story arc provides the bridge into the new trilogy. Just as Obi-Wan faced Vader, we see Kylo Ren confronting Luke Skywalker near the end. In many ways, the five-minute trailer provided a linear and much more streamlined narrative, which the official films couldn’t accomplish for some fans.
The trailer certainly makes a case for the concept to be turned into a full-blown film. STAR WARS: ALWAYS reveals just how passionate the fans of the franchise are, and how they’re willing to go further than the films to create a lasting and meaningful connection with George Lucas’ creation. In many ways, Grace and Yorkes are no different from the person who bought Luke Skywalker’s original lightsaber from A NEW HOPE, which Lottoland reveals cost a cool $240,000 at auction. They’re just doing what true fans do – devoting their resources to their beloved intellectual property.
In fact, Grace had already proved that he can pull off making a STAR WARS film. Back in 2012, Grace was responsible for putting together STAR WARS: EPISODE III.5: THE EDITOR STRIKES BACK, an 85-minute film that efficiently condensed the three prequels with help from cuts from the original trilogy, bits of dialogue from audio book recordings, music from the animated CLONE WARS, and even his own original STAR WARS text crawl. The result was a surprisingly good singular STAR WARS movie. Who knows, as the franchise is set to keep expanding, maybe Grace will get to direct and edit his own STAR WARS film soon.
In readiness for the eventual arrival of the final season, Ian Kennedy subjects himself to the whole thing again. Next up is Game of Thrones Season 4… Can anyone endure Ned’s honor, Stannis, the Red Wedding, and – worst of all – Arya’s unending journey from ‘annoying’ to ‘a different kind of annoying’, all over again? Or will the quality of the writing conquer all foes once more? Spoiler central here, if you hadn’t guessed… but in euphemisms that would make Tyrion blush, most of the time.
GAME OF THRONES is a series of chaos. As soon as order prevails somewhere important, then something shocking comes along to throw it all in the air again there. Weddings are meant to achieve the opposite – but here are often the opportunity for untold horrors. Now, I’m not saying that sadist King Joffrey doesn’t deserve to die foaming at the mouth from poisoning at his own wedding. But considering the fates he inflicted on everyone else, it’s almost too clean and quick a way to go. His beloved crossbow, though, does have a few more important lives to claim after he’s gone, not least in the final episode. I guess it’s what he would have wanted.
This act triggers a big reshuffling – switches of allegiances, escapes and false convictions, and a chance for the perverse justice system of Westeros to play out again. The trial by combat fought in episode 8 (‘The Mountain and the Viper’) is still stunning second time around, and results in arguably the show’s most astonishing death. The way the fight pulls our heartstrings and shocks us throughout, is masterful. We hadn’t even spent enough time with either character to get genuinely attached to them. But it leaves us reeling.
One thing that makes it even more effective is that the show warmed us up for this duel a few episodes before with a very comparable duel, where a champion of Meereen provokes Dany to provide one. That duel has a sudden, unexpected and impressive outcome, that’s also emotionally satisfying. And maybe subtly shapes our expectations of the one to follow, ready for them to be confounded a few times over.
Tyrion’s ordeals in this series are the biggest storyline, tying all the other strands in King’s Landing together. Here the series lays bare the gap between how people are perceived to be, and their true character. Even Tyrion’s own father and sister have always assumed he must be a hateful creature, because his birth – and supposed monstrosity, as a dwarf – robbed them of wife and mother. She was his mother too, but they don’t care about that. And this season they turn their vendetta into a search for ‘justice’, as they exercise all their legal (well, corrupt) powers to punish him for Joffrey’s murder, even though he didn’t do it. But the series plays its usual tricks on them in return too. The richest and most powerful man in Westeros finally dies on the privy – a satisfying irony – and although Cersei’s unrepentant scheming doesn’t truly backfire on her until the next season, her refusal to learn from her mistakes is the true cause of her later humiliation.
As usual, episode 9 packs the biggest punch. The Night’s Watch are attacked on all sides and the battle for Castle Black and the Wall is impressive, and culminates the love-hate romance between Jon Snow and his Wildling fling Ygritte.
A duel between Brienne and the Hound is emotionally involving (first time around) and pretty ugly. On second sight, there are too many serious head injuries for a fight of this intensity to be sustained. We’ve got too used to seeing people clubbed in the head with rocks on our screens, seemingly without having any negative impact on them.
My main complaint is how quickly, and fully, Jon recovers – in this same season – from having three arrows in his body, a stab in the leg, and having his head pounded into an anvil. Seriously? I know we like him, mostly, but it’s unlike GAME OF THRONES to indulge our heroes like this.
Playback rating: 4/5
Enjoyed reading this article on Game of Thrones Season 4? Take a look at Ian’s opinion on Season 3 by clicking here. Articles on future seasons are coming shortly!
In readiness for the eventual arrival of the final season, Ian Kennedy subjects himself to the whole thing again. Next up is Game of Thrones Season 3… Can anyone endure Ned’s honor, Stannis, the Red Wedding, and – worst of all – Arya’s unending journey from ‘annoying’ to ‘a different kind of annoying’, all over again? Or will the quality of the writing conquer all foes once more? Spoiler central here, if you hadn’t guessed… but in euphemisms that would make Tyrion blush, most of the time.
GAME OF THRONES SEASON 3
For all the nudity and violations it inflicts on them, the prevalence of strong women characters is a huge strength of GoT. The arrival of Lady Tyrrell, played by captivating old stager (and onetime beauty) Diana Rigg, adds lovely wit and wisdom to the series – not that it was missing before. It’s interesting to hear how Catelyn blames herself for her family’s afflictions, based on an act of faith she once committed.
There’s wonderful use here of the medieval politics of marriage, which clearly overwhelm any sentimental connection we’d like to think they have to love (it’s particularly amusing watching Tyrion squirm as he arrives to reveal the plan for Sansa and himself, in front of his beloved Shae). There are DVD extras about this, and about religion in GoT. which deserves an essay in itself. Evidently, magical and mystical and inexplicable forces are at work here. Maybe even gods, not that we ever see them substantiated or corroborated. But there’s a much deeper indeterminacy and even relativism at work – every culture has its own gods (or god – though evidently not the merciful one we might recognize) but, as in Shakespeare’s King Lear, none of these well-crafted belief systems seem to do their owners any good. The most pragmatic solution seems to be Tywin’s, for now – “he believes in them, he just doesn’t like them very much”. The main embodiment of both religion and magic in the series is ‘the Red Woman’, Mellisandra, who goes to shocking, devilish lengths to help Stannis and others fulfil her visions – but even her visions aren’t proven to any significant extent.
Jaime’s character arc in this series is an interesting one. His experiences with Brienne give him some compassion and honor at last – and the moment he goes back to his old tricks is the moment that costs him his hand. In his turn, he gives a turning point to Roose Bolton, a key Stark ally.
Many important or recurring characters are still being introduced during this series, and many other passages make a lot more sense second time around now we recognize the characters and where they’re headed. Lord Bolton’s brilliantly sadistic bastard Ramsay puts Theon through his – admittedly deserved – miseries. The Brotherhood Without Banners show us the White Walkers aren’t the only ones who can raise the dead. The fallen Maester who treats Jaime’s wound gets an interesting journey over the coming years. Thormund and Mance Rayder and giants show us there’s more to Wildlings than disorderly tribal wild life; where the series puts us on a side, it never fails to show us there are good people and good humor on the other side too. Jon Snow’s love story with Ygritte is a very enjoyable example.
As we’ve seen in Ned’s life journey, winning battles and wars here doesn’t save you from falling prey to bitter truths. Watching the unravelling of Robb’s war – after winning all his battles – teaches us bitter lessons about the brutal logic of George RR Martin’s world. (Personally, I’m expecting a bitter conclusion, to reaffirm the anti-sentimental message of his storytelling in this series. He’s a master at building up our unwitting expectations, then savagely destroying our naïve hopes and expectations.) We’re well distracted by his other storylines – his love story and his wife’s pregnancy – and miss the bigger picture that’s staring us in the face.
Ah, we reach the ever-fatal penultimate episode of the series. After the Red Wedding, first time round, I was shocked and bereft like most people. But after ten minutes’ silence, I concluded that it was entirely right. This time? Yep. When you know what’s coming, it’s all the more glaring how much our own sentimentalism blinds us to what is totally deserved. Bitterly, but totally.
The final episode of the season is almost anticlimactic after that. But Ygritte gets to put a few arrows into Jon for abandoning her. I’m sure a lot of women can relate.
In readiness for the eventual arrival of the final season, Ian Kennedy subjects himself to the whole thing again. Next up is Game of Thrones Season 2… Can anyone endure Ned’s honor, Stannis, the Red Wedding, and – worst of all – Arya’s unending journey from ‘annoying’ to ‘a different kind of annoying’, all over again? Or will the quality of the writing conquer all foes once more? Spoiler central here, if you hadn’t guessed… but in euphemisms that would make Tyrion blush, most of the time.
Not easy, introducing and reintroducing so many characters and backstories after nearly a year, with so little screen time for each of them. To make this work, the first episode of Season Two presents some unflinching violence and dark exchanges to make clear who’s in power and who’s powerless in every scene, and how they choose to use those positions – which is a great way to reveal true character, in life-or-death exchanges.
For example, in a fatal tournament for Joffrey’s amusement, we’re introduced to a minor character who is almost killed at the young king’s command. But after surviving thanks to Sansa’s intervention – even when both stand in a position of apparent powerless – he gets a small but vital role later in both Joffrey’s and Sansa’s fates.
These pieces of poetic justice underline how fine the line between success and death is in the series (“you win or you die”, of course!). Cersei holds court, proving her intention is to rule the kingdoms herself – but only to discover that Tyrion has superceded her, and she’s been out of her depth. She still gets her chance to belittle Littlefinger afterwards and teach him a lesson in power – very well-written and wryly dismissive of one of people’s favorite sentimental maxims, that knowledge is power. It’s a good crystallization of the underlying lessons of the series, and sets Littlefinger to change sides later. Meanwhile, the Lannisters start a campaign to slaughter all of Robert’s bastards – since they all have a better claim to the throne than the new king does!
Dany, her baby dragons, and her few dozen followers have their time in the wilderness. The Night’s Watch visit the creepy Craster’s Keep, and we’re introduced to Stannis in another creepy situation, which comes to a head with a fascinating failed poisoning attempt on his sorceress: it’s in situations like these that the series shows its distinctiveness. Robb shows he does have an exit stategy even while the war is going well for him. There are some absorbing exchanges and scenarios, but with an anticlimactic ending and no real fights or battles, it’s a bit of a flat episode by the series’ usual standards.
With the series fully in its flow by now, it seems rude to interrupt it by writing about it. There’s lots to relish here second time around, from Brienne’s entrance, Tyrion’s astute politicking and spectacular fleeting military triumph, to the Hound’s crisis of confidence in the midst of the Battle of the Blackwater. It’s fun seeing Jaime still playing the villain; if anything he (or actor Nikolai Walder-Costau) is enjoying it too much, but it’s nice to have someone to hate. As usual, the ninth episode is the spectacularly good – or bad – one, as the Lannisters desperately try to save themselves from Stannis’ invasion.
The real joy of second-time-around is recognising all the minor characters as they appear and reappear. From Ros turning from Theon’s whore at Winterfell, to Ser Loris being the first to reveal himself as a rescuer of King’s Landing – and through it the Tyrell’s decisive change of sides. Recognising the surnames adds just as much value. This is definitely a must-watch-twice series.
One question though, other than Catelyn’s foolish release of Jaime. Why do Bran, Rickon and their guardians run from Winterfell at the end, when Stark allies are about to liberate the castle?
“Legitimacy is a big theme in GoT; lots of characters think they have it, many are proven wrong brutally (and butchered along with their thousands of dutiful followers), some people who don’t seem to have it turn out to, and in the end maybe none of them will be right...”
In readiness for the eventual arrival of the final season of Game of Thrones, Ian Kennedy subjects himself to the whole thing again. Next up is Episodes 6, 7, and 8. Can anyone endure Ned’s honor, Stannis, the Red Wedding, and – worst of all – Arya’s unending journey from ‘annoying’ to ‘a different kind of annoying’, all over again? Or will the quality of the writing conquer all foes once more? Spoiler central here, if you hadn’t guessed… but in euphemisms that would make Tyrion blush, most of the time.(more…)
In readiness for the eventual arrival of the final season of Game of Thrones, Ian Kennedy subjects himself to the whole thing again. Next up is Episodes 6, 7, and 8. Can anyone endure Ned’s honor, Stannis, the Red Wedding, and – worst of all – Arya’s unending journey from ‘annoying’ to ‘a different kind of annoying’, all over again? Or will the quality of the writing conquer all foes once more? Spoiler central here, if you hadn’t guessed… but in euphemisms that would make Tyrion blush, most of the time.
Oh, so much great writing here. Really got my heart pounding when Tyrion’s trial by combat happened, even though I knew the outcome. And Viserys gets the crown he craved – but it’s not the crown he craved – just the first of many times the series gives a character what they say they want, to teach them brutally that it’s really not what they want. Super.
Yes, it’s the one with that line from Cersei to Ned which gives the series its name. To be honest, I’m finding the storytelling and dialogue so absorbing that I struggle to break off from watching to write up my thoughts. This is seriously multi-layered – so many characters and references that went over my head last time. I’d forgotten that Renly was such a recurring character in Season One, already set for a tilt at the crown, and that we already knew Stannis was, well, Stannis, many times before we met him. Great stuff, even when you know what’s coming.
Re-watching is a great chance to test out the theories I’ve been forging about the series. I think I’m definitely right that Ned’s – and all the other Starks’ – fatal flaw is being honorable; many characters say as much, in different ways and circumstances. His refusals to play Cersei and Littlefinger at their own games are, in hindsight, laughably naïve – but would be a successful and satisfying strategy in most stories, and GoT hasn’t revealed its hand by this point.
One element of the usual Game of Thrones formula is missing – there’s no sex in this one! Maybe no wonder the episode seems to drag a lot after the first phase, even after a bloody coup and with all sides gearing up for war.
Another character who is punished for showing mercy and sentimentalism is Daenerys, when she saves some peasants from becoming spoils of war, and then gets one of them to treat a wounded Khal Drogo. Soon she’ll learn the error of this. But unlike most, she survives it to harden herself for the future.
In readiness for the eventual arrival of the final season, Ian Kennedy subjects himself to the whole thing again. Next up is Episode 5,The Wolf and the Lion. Can anyone endure Ned’s honor, Stannis, the Red Wedding, and – worst of all – Arya’s unending journey from ‘annoying’ to ‘a different kind of annoying’, all over again? Or will the quality of the writing conquer all foes once more? Spoiler central here, if you hadn’t guessed… but in euphemisms that would make Tyrion blush, most of the time.
Praise needed here for the title sequence – cost over $1m, apparently, and endlessly watchable, as the locations of the series unfold themselves in fascinating 3D configurations.
The idea of a Clegane-off happening in the final series has been gaining pace among GoT fans, but we actually got one right here in Season One, as the Hound steps in to prevent the Mountain – his brother – from murdering the knight he just lost a joust to. Two oversized monster-men in armour fighting, when we’ve lately heard that it was the Mountain who gave the Hound his huge facial scars as children. And this moment also shows us that – however horrible he might seem now – the Hound will end up on the right side eventually.
The violence steps up several levels early in this episode, and we get our first real fights. For the first time we’ve seen, King Robert gets directly involved in affairs of state, and has a rare heart-to-heart with his wife Cersei – not for the better. The king hears of Dany’s pregnancy, and tries to get her killed – and the ever-honorable Ned resigns his position rather than fulfil the request. Catelyn discovers her sister is not the woman she was – an almost surreal scene as Lyssa suckles her overgrown child. After some chicanery from Littlefinger, Ned is caught out and Jaime and Ned get to actually fight each other! Awesome! But this is cruelly cut short in typical GoT fashion. A very enjoyable episode. And no Dany in it at all, which I think is probably the only time that happens.