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Second Look: GAME OF THRONES Season 1, Episodes 9-10

Second Look: GAME OF THRONES Season 1, Episodes 9-10

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…)

Second Look: Game of Thrones Season 1 – Episodes 6, 7, and 8

Second Look: Game of Thrones Season 1 – Episodes 6, 7, and 8

Oh, so much great writing here...”

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.

 

EPISODE 6: A GOLDEN CROWN

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.

Playback rating: 5/5

 

EPISODE 7: YOU WIN OR YOU DIE

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.

Playback rating: 4/5

 

EPISODE 8: THE POINTY END

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.

Playback rating: 3/5

Continue into Ian’s review of the following episodes here: https://writemovies.com/second-look-game-of-thrones-season-1-episodes-9-10/ or go back to the first episode’s Second Look here! https://writemovies.com/second-look-game-of-thrones-season-one-episode-one/

Second Look: Game of Thrones Season 1, Episode 5 – The Wolf and the Lion

Second Look: Game of Thrones Season 1, Episode 5 – The Wolf and the Lion

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.

Episode 5: The Wolf and the Lion

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.

Playback rating: 5/5

If you liked Ian’s take on “The Wolf and the Lion”, take a look at his thoughts on Episode Three: “Lord Snow” by clicking here! or Episode Four: “Cripples, Bastards, and Broken things by clicking here!

Second Look: Game of Thrones Season 1, Episode 4 – Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things

Second Look: Game of Thrones Season 1, Episode 4 – Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things

In readiness for the eventual arrival of the final season, Ian Kennedy subjects himself to the whole thing again. Next up is the episode “Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things”. 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.

Episode Four: Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things

Yep, it’s interesting to see the young characters and actors while they’re really young again, and Theon while he’s happy to be an honorary Stark. The dialogue is just as fascinating second time around – the way the series gives people short, impactful, snappy dialogues is deep, powerful and wise. Lots of the minor characters, ignored and forgotten soon after we first see them, turn out to be more important later – it’s enjoyable to make connections as I watch the likes of Barristan, Gendry, Hodor (poor Hodor!), Thorne and the rest…

You have to pay close attention to recognise names, faces and details. The joust – and the killed knight at its inception – are part of an easily-missed storyline, part of the cover-up about the dead Hand. Maybe the books are easier on that front for audiences, because narration forces names to be repeated a lot more often, and gives room for direct exposition. Maybe. But it’s a rich tapestry of a series, even without knowing everything we could do.

One clever feature is how the magical features of the series are seeded. A coital discussion is the first reference to many of them at once – a very good place to hide an exposition scene, and Season One is full of others. Lots of magical things we hear about from a minor character later turn out to be true. She asks Viserys about dragons, and Viserys’ answers sound like excuses for them no longer existing. But then in another episode, Arya stumbles past some huge dragon skulls in the cellars of the palace, confirming that yes, they were real in this world, and very impressive.

When she is identified in a potentially hostile inn, Catelyn Stark is the latest woman in the series to earn our admiration, as she unites many rival families’ men to get Tyrion arrested. This is the moment when Tyrion’s playboy lifestyle first judders to a halt, and his own character is formed – he’s falsely accused and his life put in the hands of the twisted justice system of Westeros… for the first of many times.

Playback rating: 4/5

If you liked Ian’s take on “Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things”, take a look at his thoughts on Episode Two: “The Kingsroad” by clicking here! or Episode Three: “Lord Snow” by clicking here!

The DIE HARD Conundrum – What counts as a Christmas movie?

The DIE HARD Conundrum – What counts as a Christmas movie?

It’s the biggest unanswered question in film. Every year, without fail, it comes up again; battle lines are drawn, families are divided, and the debate rages on. And the question, of course, is…

Is DIE HARD a Christmas movie?

On the one hand, a film about terrorists taking over a building is hardly a happy tale for the holidays. On the other… Well, it’s set at Christmas, and sees our hero trying to reunite with his family for some festive fun. That’s enough, isn’t it? Even if the festive fun is interrupted by bombs, bullets, and bad German accents?

Of course, by that logic, LIFE OF BRIAN is also a Christmas movie. After all, it too is set at Christmas – it opens in Bethlehem on the night that Jesus was born! The fact that it focuses on the stable next door where the hapless Brian is being born, and that the wise men visit him by accident, and in fact otherwise has nothing to do with Christmas…

Okay, let’s face it: there are some films that fall into a grey area. LIFE OF BRIAN probably isn’t a Christmas movie (although I’m sure someone’s bound to disagree!) but at the very least a lot of people have a heartfelt love for DIE HARD around this time of year, and that counts for something.

So, in celebration of this fact, here’s are some of our favorite films that exist in this grey area. Christmas movie or not Christmas movie? Let us know your thoughts!

  • THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS: Come on, it’s got the word Christmas in the title! The fact that Santa Claus (or rather “Sandy Claws”) get kidnapped by the king of Halloween, the reindeer are skeletal and led by a ghost dog, and all the presents handed out terrorize the children shouldn’t make a difference, right? Okay, maybe it should. Half Halloween movie, half Christmas movie – maybe this is best watched in mid-November.
  • EDWARD SCISSORHANDS: Let’s stick with Tim Burton for a moment. The most iconic scene in this American-Gothic fairytale sees Wynona Rider’s Kim dancing in the snow while Edward carves ice sculptures. A beautiful Christmas moment… Except that Edward is a leather-bound weirdo with scissors for hands. Things don’t end too well for Edward and Kim either, so only watch this one if you want to spend Christmas Day in tears.
  • FROZEN: Snow! Ice! Snowmen! Disney songs so iconic that half the world’s population bursts into song at the words “Let it Go” and the other half groans in frustration! On paper, Frozen has all the right ingredients for a Christmas movie and a lot of people will probably give it a watch over the coming week – except that it never mentions Christmas. Not even once.
  • GREMLINS: Don’t feed them after midnight. Don’t let them get wet. Once those rules get broken and these little critters get loose, all sorts of chaos ensues. Okay, this one is definitely set at Christmas, but it’s not exactly one to get you into the holiday spirit. Part horror, part comedy, GREMLINS is a film for people who really want to turn Christmas on its head.
  • HOME ALONE: Fans rejoiced when Macaulay Culkin recently reprised his role as Kevin McCallister for an advert, but this Christmas classic is actually pretty dark. While Kevin’s traps are dangerous enough to maim or potentially kill the would-be thieves, it’s his parents who are the real villains here. Not only are they neglectful enough to forget about him while they catch a flight to Paris, they don’t even bother trying to phone anyone back home once they realize he’s not with them – not the police, not a neighbour, nobody. Seriously, someone needs to call CPS on the McCallisters – they’re a danger to their own children.

Whatever you choose to watch this week – whether it’s a movie about Santa Claus being kidnapped, evil creatures running rampant, or a skyscraper being taken over by terrorists – we hope you enjoy it. From all the team at WriteMovies, we’d like to wish you a very Merry Christmas!

Enjoyed this article? Take a look at some of the other pieces on our website by clicking here!

Writing character driven stories – a look at Alfonso Cuarón’s ROMA

Writing character driven stories – a look at Alfonso Cuarón’s ROMA

Alfonso Cuarón’s latest film, ROMA, has been getting all kinds of acclaim, winning the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival and earning three Golden Globe nominations already. Guest author Cat Tebo takes a look at what we can learn from it about writing character driven stories…

Screenplay - not Roma

A lot of new writers fall into the trap of prioritizing plot above all else, losing the characters and, consequently, the “heart” of their story. Ideally, a script should be a marriage between plot and character. The best way to go about this is by developing characters whose objectives and agency are so strong that they inform the plot, rather than characters being used as mere devices for the storyteller to force into the mold of how they think their story is “supposed”to be.

Alfonso Cuarón’s recent film, ROMA, is a perfect example of how a character-driven film should function, with characters so compelling and nuanced that there isn’t room for heavy, convoluted plot-lines or unrealistic story details. Instead, the characters are the story.

A big part of what makes rich characterization so important to story is that the strength of a story lies in the strength of its characters. Characters give stories humanity and, in doing so, a heart. Furthermore, the desires and objectives that drive characters to act are the same ones that should drive the story forward. In ROMA, everything that happens is a result of characters exercising agency and taking action in order to get what they want: it’s one of the most basic fundamentals of storytelling. Plot movement is all about getting characters from point A to point B; if there is no character arc, there is no story.

Fleshing out your characters is often a challenging task. In creating ROMA, Alfonso Cuarón was drawing inspiration from his own childhood, and familiarity no doubt makes for a greater sense of character. Even when writers are creating characters completely from scratch, the influence of memories and experience still plays a part—there is no such thing as objective fiction, and even the most original-seeming thoughts are a consolidation of some kind of previous knowledge.

Still, there are some important character elements to consider when figuring out who your characters are. Ask yourself what their weaknesses are, what their strengths are, how they cope with obstacles, what they need versus what they want, who they appear to be versus who they really are—for every question you ask, you shouldn’t hesitate to ask the inverse of it as well. Doing this ensures that you’re considering your characters from every possible angle and are covering every aspect of them you can.

Concept is usually what sells your story in the beginning, but characters are what make it stick. Likewise,you might be able to grab an audience’s attention with an interesting premise, but you won’t be able to hold it without intriguing characters. 

Take a look at more writing insights from WriteMovies by clicking here!

Second Look: Game of Thrones Season One, Episode Three – Lord Snow

Second Look: Game of Thrones Season One, Episode Three – Lord Snow

In readiness for the eventual arrival of the final season, Ian Kennedy subjects himself to the whole thing again. Next up is the episode “Lord Snow”. 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.

Episode Three: Lord Snow

First of all, I do some math during the DVD homepage, and create an amusing ratio that demonstrates the series’ very impressive body count. But eventually I accept there is also an episode or two ready to watch.

Ned and the royal party arrive at balmy King’s Landing, and a series of excellent dialogues introduce us to the many powerful men who Ned must now navigate between as Hand of the King, as well as other enjoyable backstory intrigues.

“Someday you’ll sit on the throne, and the truth will be how you make it,” Cersei counsels Joffrey, among other dangerously wise advice. “Everyone who isn’t us, is an enemy,” she says, condoning his view that the Starks are enemies – though he doesn’t realise just how narrow her definition of “us” is, given his real parentage. “War is easier than daughters,” Ned concludes, reflecting the private view of men the world over – you’ll find way more stories by men about war, than about daughters. Sadly.

It’s enjoyable watching Daenerys earn our respect from nothing all over again – and her brother our hatred – as she starts to behave like the Khaleesi (tribal queen) she has become. It’s fun seeing Tyrion still the carefree rich playboy, before a world of cares catch up with him. Quoting his brother Ned, to cut short a pleasantry from Tyrion, Benjen says “nothing before the word ‘but’ matters” – neat. Dany becomes pregnant – something I’d almost totally forgotten about. Her burgeoning relationship with the savage, brutal tribal ruler Khal Drogo is still one of the most distinctive love stories I’ve ever seen, and is executed (sorry, no pun intended) in a remarkably short amount of screen time over this series.

Ned sets Arya a ‘dancing master’ to teach her artful swordfighting, and these are still among the most enjoyable training scenes I’ve seen anywhere, with some rich payoffs later. No coincidence that her tutor is from Braavos, and her transformation comes to fruition there later. Seeing her move with a sword, Ned is taken aback. Maybe he’s surprised that in Season One, she’s not yet really annoying,

Playback rating: 4/5

If you liked Ian’s take on “Lord Snow”, take a look at his thoughts on Episode One: “Winter is Coming” by clicking here or Episode Two: “The Kingsroad” by clicking here!