THOUGHTS ON…HALT & CATCH FIRE

Greetings all!!!

Now, I usually won’t or don’t talk about television on my blog unless I have an opinion of an important piece of programming. And yes, I’m a few days late, but before it’s next episode I’d like to talk about Halt And Catch Fire. 

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If I could best sum up Halt And Catch Fire to a friend it would be Mad Men meets The Social Network and filmed like Breaking Bad.

The three main members of the cast Lee Pace, Scott McNairy and Mackenzie Davis all do a terrific job with their roles and that’s something that has to be commended.

Pace’s Joe Macmillan is like a cross between Don Draper and Andrew Garfield’s take on Eduardo Saverin in The Social Network with a touch of Frank Underwood from House of Cards.

rs_560x415-140516090912-1024.Halt-And-Catch-Fire.jl.051614Like Draper and Saverin, Macmillan is the business head of the group, pushing them forward and doing most of the negotiating. And like Frank, Joe is always planning something, thinking one step ahead of everybody else.

At least that is what I’m gathering from just this first episode.

Like anyone else who has watched the episode, you may feel slightly more drawn to the straight laced MacMillan than the other two characters.

But it’s not in a bad reflection of them.

It’s because the history of the character is shrouded in a lot of mystery and we haven’t seen him at his lowest yet. It’ll be interesting to see who he really is when we get there.

Lee Pace portrays the character with such enigmatic grace that you can’t help but be intrigued and drawn to him.

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Hell even on the Breaking Bad part, the character of Gordon Clark draws some parallels to Walter White. Both are brilliant in their field. Both are not content with how their lives have turned out. Both want to reach their true potential.

Not to mention, he has to make the choice of balancing being a committed family man or being devoted to his work. That’ll be choice I see Gordon having to make on a regular basis. And it’ll be something that could make or break him.

Scott McNairy does great portraying a man discontented with his current situation so well it feels like McNairy has experienced that situation before and has drawn from that experience.

Going back to the point I made about how MacMillan was the character most would be drawn to the most, another reason why I say this is because everything we need to see about Gordon, we’ve seen. And the same applies to Mackenzie Davis’ Cameron Howe.

You already have the character of Cameron figured out.

She’s about to finish college. She’s too smart to be amongst her peers. She doesn’t act the way society her wants to. What’s more is that Cameron is always cheating the arcade machine and when she turns up to her first day at Cardiff Electric she isn’t dressed like every other woman working there.

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She’s the wild card of the three and every group, especially for a series like this, needs one to add to the drama. She’s essentially a female mix of Jesse Pinkman and Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network (I keep referring to the film because I obviously don’t know Zuckerberg so I wouldn’t know if that’s how he really is in real life).

The fact that Gordon is skeptical about working with Cameron and is slightly dismissive of her reminds me of the Walt/Jesse dynamic. When they started working together Walt was always so impatient with Jesse because he looked down on Jesse and believed he didn’t need him.

And for all we know, further on the same will apply to the Cameron/Gordon aspect, or they’ll actually find common ground. Luckily Joe’s the glue that will hold them together.

Gordon and Cameron are there because Joe dragged them into this, so in order to get somewhere they have to both put their faith in Joe, in each other and work together.

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But overall the dynamic between the cast looks like it’s one that will work because you can sense that the chemistry is there, and they bounce off each other in the final scene of the episode.

A lot of people probably know the history of the computing industry and there are others that don’t. What’s more is that everyone knows how computers have ended up today. We don’t just have computers, but now our phones act as a mobile personal computer, we have tablets, the internet, mobile internet.

But I like films or TV shows that show us the beginnings of something that revolutionised human society. Especially when it’s done right.

For example, The Social Network. We all knew how and where Facebook has ended up. But watching it’s birth and early beginnings was intriguing. Not to mention the other underlying matters surrounding it’s spawn.

We had Zuckerberg who is being taken to court because he was being accused of stealing the idea of Facebook from somebody else. He’s being sued by his best friend for diluting shares that were rightfully his.

All of those ingredients added to Facebook’s origins made the story compelling and it’s what we have with Halt And Catch Fire.

We have three characters, Joe MacMillan, Cameron Howe and Gordon Clark who might be on the brink of something revolutionary.

When something as successful or revolutionary like Facebook exists, you are bound to have rivals. Or there are those who will want a piece of your pie. Not to mention there will always be tension at some point within the team.

My money’s on Gordon Clark to cause the tension.

Everyone will expect it to be Cameron, but I’d go for Gordon because not only have we seen him at the beginning of the episode in trouble for getting into a drunk fight, but he had to tell his wife that he was drinking Dr Pepper instead of beer. I also see that if the three are successful with their machine, Gordon’s ego is the one that will increase tenfold.

Not only is he back in the field he belongs at and is good at it, but when he ends up with that much success it will go to his head.

And If anything I bet Cameron will be the one to change sides. Because she can’t be controlled or manipulated, not even by Joe. But then Joe might be the anchor that keeps her coming back.

Who knows?

But that’s not to say that MacMillan is going to be the outright level headed member of the team. For all we know, the more about Joe and his past that gets revealed may change our perspective on him.

What I also really love is because of the era it’s set it in, it’s gonna have a great soundtrack. People tend to think of the silly, camp side of the 80’s, but it was a decade that brought a lot to arts and culture.

I wasn’t born in the 80’s. I was born in the 90’s. But when I look back on the 80’s I become interested in it because with it came the uprise of punk, neo-pop, neo-punk and electronic music. That area in itself fascinates me about an era I was never a part of.

I’d say my biggest problem with it is that, like a lot of TV shows or films that deal with a groundbreaking moment in any particular field, be it IT or music, the situation at hand is always over dramatised.

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It’s always the whole “Our time is now” thing in which there is so much emphasis on making every moment count. That everything they do now is of the utmost importance and nothing else in the world absolutely matters.

Especially when Joe says stuff to Gordon like “Everyone thinks computers are the thing. But what people don’t realise is that computers are the thing that get us to the thing”.

I’m sure in reality not everyone will have that gung-ho spirit to their work. A lot of the time when people make important landmarks in their fields it’s not because they are forcing themselves to redefine their field but in some cases it happens to be a successful accident.

But I guess maybe that’s a point Halt And Catch Fire is trying to make. Gordon’s article was just seen as a thesis or just an article, but Joe was smart enough to realise that Gordon mapped the future in computing and hence the emphasis on the “Our time is now thing”.

It’s been a while since I watched the first ever episode of a television show and genuinely got excited for it’s future. The first episode of Breaking Bad didn’t excite me that much. And neither did the first ever episode of Game Of Thrones.

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I really loved the scene at the end of this episode when Joe, Gordon and Cameron are all looking into Cardiff Electric’s office as IBM’s army of lawyers come marching in one by one to Bonobo’s track Cirrus.

What I liked especially with this scene is when Gordon asks a question on everyone’s mind; “What are you trying to prove with all this?”

And that’s why I really can’t wait for the next episode, to see what Joe is up to.

It’s interesting to see where they take the show. I’m fascinated by it, and even if you weren’t as impressed as I was by the opening episode, you can”t help but admit that it does show a lot of promise.

So I’m urging you guys to give this series a watch and stick with it.

4.5/5

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MAN OF STEEL. AND MAN OF STEEL 2’S OFFICIAL TITLE.

Greetings all!

So, this week, the sequel to 2013’s Man Of Steel, got it’s official title (and I’ll give my reactions to that towards the end of this week’s post…promise…).

But following my opinion piece last week on the sequel, I thought I’d share my opinions on Superman’s latest reboot. I expressed my views on the franchise’s future, so why not speak about it’s current state? Right?

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Where to start…

Let’s start with the positives and what I liked about the film.

First of all, I feel that the film achieved what it set out to do. Which was to make Superman relatable, even though it was done in the similar vain to Batman Begins (you know, Bruce and Clark both left home because of some traumatic event and wandered around the world moving from place to place looking for some purpose to their lives).

I’ve always felt that between Batman and Superman, Clark was the more relatable.

Hear me out for a second…

Superman, powers aside, had a pretty normal upbringing. He went to high school, had his first crush, the usual. Even him hitting puberty was touched upon through him discovering his abilities. Like the X-Men, Clark has always been and felt like an outsider. Because of who he is, what he can do, he has never been able to fit in.

All of us know what it’s like to feel isolated and alone, being left out just because of who you are. And like most of us, Superman is trying to find his place in life. Who he’s supposed to be. What he’s supposed to do.

And that’s something Zack Snyder’s film beautifully touched upon.

In the Donner series, you could touch upon the idea that Superman was isolated and an outsider, but because it was done in a subtle manner, audiences failed to see that subtext. What Man Of Steel  did was that it brought those issues to the fray, making it plainly obvious for the audience to see.

Another brilliant thing about Snyder’s take on Superman was the cast. Henry Cavill, I feel, pulled through a memorable performance as the main character. One of my closest friends said he thought Cavill was the worst Superman on screen, but I strongly disagree.

I think the problem with Cavill was, like Brandon Routh’s incarnation, he was given very few lines of dialogue. It seemed at times that Cavill was just there to pose and look the part. Cavill did not speak until the scene where Clark is working at the bar. Lois had more to say than Clark.

And on that note, Adams did well as Miss Lane. She wouldn’t have been my first pick, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but her portrayal worked well for the film.

Of the cast I would say the weak point came from it’s main villain Zod. Yes, Michael Shannon gave a terrific performance. He did his best with the character. The problem was, Zod was incredibly repetitive. There wasn’t a single moment where Zod didn’t say something about “his people”.

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Yes, I get it, on Krypton, most of it’s population has been genetically engineered to serve a purpose, but in Zod’s case it came off as slightly one dimensional. There was not much personality to the character. He’s like the one guy at an office whose entire life is his job and has chosen to abandon any form of social interaction.

But like I said, Shannon did a good job…

Superman has always been an iconic character, and Man Of Steel encapsulated the iconic imagery of the character wonderfully. Nearly every scene with Clark/Superman was incredibly iconic, from the scene where he’s unconscious in the ocean, to him flying over the earth, to the scene where he floats out of Zod’s ship to save Lois.

When I first saw the scene in the trailer where Superman is walking in the arctic, wearing his costume with his cape blowing in the wind, I was filled with so much excitement and high expectations for the film.

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But there was one part that let me down…

My overall criticism of the film, the part I disliked the most would be Clark’s fight against Zod towards the end of the film. No, I’m not one of those fans who’s gonna bitch about Superman killing Zod. I didn’t have a problem with it. My problem was the fight itself. Not just the amount of destruction it caused, but also the choreography of it.

Superman’s fight in Smallville, though destructive, was a lot better. That’s how a fight between three Kryptonians on Earth should be.

It should be destructive, but it should be dirty. It should be gritty. It should have some realism. It shouldn’t be over the top. And that’s what the Zod fight was like.

Particularly when Zod grabs Superman’s cloak and spins him then lets go. It looked incredibly cartoonish and everytime I watch that scene on Blu-Ray I either skip it, go get a snack or turn the film off entirely.

This is Superman. Instead it looked like a fight scene from DragonBall Z.

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I’m not saying I have a problem with DBZ, and I don’t mean this in a bad way, but Superman and Goku are two different class of characters. Superman is a classy character who has been around for 75 years and that fight isn’t the character’s style. It felt like the fight was an imitation of DBZ and that was my problem.

And of course, the carnage…

Yes, I did have a problem with carnage. Why? Every person who is a Superman fan would want to see at least Doomsday or Brainiac brought to life. And those villains were rumoured to be considered for the sequel.

That’s incredibly worrying considering that, if a fight between Superman and Zod can nearly wipe out a city, then what happens if the Man of Steel goes up the universe’s ultimate killing machine, does that mean the whole of Earth gets brought to it’s knees during the fight?

What’s more is Superman is supposed to be saving people. Even at the cost of his own life.

During a fight, Clark would rather rescue someone from a collapsing skyscraper and taking a blow to the ribs than let innocent people die. He instead, is causing the mayhem and destruction. That, above all, is the worrying problem about the fight between Zod and Superman.

3.5/5

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If possible, watch this video by Max Landis, writer of the 2012 film Chronicle. Landis, in my opinion, is brilliant in what he says. I’m a fan of his and as someone who writes, I admire his work and look up to him.

He expresses his opinions on Man Of Steel which are reasonable and should be noted by anyone who loves Superman or hasn’t made their mind up on Snyder’s film. The guy knows what he’s talking about and I hope one day he gets a shot at writing a Superman (or any other comic book hero) based movie.

Video below:

And finally, onto the sequel and it’s title, Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice. I don’t have much to say to be honest. You can express your fears about the production of a film but at this point; there is no point. What’s done is done. We just have to see what how it turns out.

Yes, I am a little annoyed that a film that is supposed to be part of a Superman franchise is now being shared with a fan boy favourite (Batman) and is serving up as a Justice League foundation, but bitching about it won’t change anything.

All I’ll say is that I no longer see it as a Man Of Steel sequel.

So, what did you think of Man Of Steel? Do you agree with my post? Or with Max Landis?

Also, what do you make of the title of the “sequel”, Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice?

Comments please!!

THOUGHTS ON…SUPERMAN VS BATMAN. OR BATMAN VS SUPERMAN. OR MAN OF STEEL 2 (Whatever is your preference)

Greetings all!

This is my first blog post and what a topic to start on!

So, we all know what has happened in the last few months.

Man of Steel got a sequel. The sequel would have Batman. Ben Affleck will play Batman. Gal Gadot got cast as Wonder Woman. Jeremy Irons will play Alfred Pennyworth. Jesse Eisenberg will play Lex Luthor.

And, just yesterday, director Zack Snyder shared a small first glimpse of what the project would look like by revealing the new Batsuit on Twitter, demonstrated below.

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Now, a lot of the reception towards this upcoming project has been negative, to say the least. And it is understandable.

Being a comic book fan, hell, being a Superman fan, I have quite a lot to get off my chest about the project and I decided that now, I just might do that.

Anyone expecting a full on nerdy rant, you have been forewarned. Yes. It will be nerdy. But no. This is not a rant. This instead, is a much more impartial view on the project. So here goes…

In terms of casting, I understand some of the preconceived fears, but, with the possible exception of the Eisenberg/Lex Luthor casting, it isn’t all that disastrous. I personally think that Ben Affleck was a smart, nay, very safe choice.

Considering who else was in the running for the role, this wasn’t by any means a bad choice. No disrespect to the following actors, but would you rather have had Orlando Bloom or Armie Hammer play Batman? I get that a lot of fans wanted Josh Brolin, and sure he looks the part, but I wouldn’t have been entirely confident if he was chosen. And I know Affleck has it within him to pull off the billionaire playboy side to Batman. Plus, from yesterday’s picture, he sure looks the part as Bruce Wayne’s alter ego.

The other casting for me is this: Gal Gadot was another sensible choice. I personally would have picked Gemma Arterton for Wonder Woman but Gadot remains a good choice. My only gripe is that Wonder Woman is even in the movie.

I’m on the fence with Jeremy Irons, but like Affleck, I think in time we’ll see him show us what he’s made of.

Of course, the casting of Lex Luthor is the one that throws me off slightly.

I’m not saying Jesse Eisenberg is a bad actor. On the contrary, he’s one of the best young actors out there. In every film I’ve seen him in, I’ve found him to be highly like-able and he always delivers a terrific performance, especially in The Social Network. Also, he, alongside Mark Ruffalo, Dave Franco and Woody Harrelson made Now You See Me, slightly more watchable.

Unfortunately, I just don’t see him as one of the greatest and most fearsome super-villain in comic book history.

Casting aside, my gripes with this film are not necessarily with the casting and characters, but with what they plan to do with the movie. From seeing yesterday’s picture of Affleck in the Batsuit it is evidently clear how much Snyder wants to subtly bring Frank Miller’s iconic graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns to life. And we all know what happens in that comic:

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And that’s where I have a problem…

Yes, I did say earlier that I am a Superman fan. He is my favourite of all the comic book characters. And, not to be biased here, but if, (for the sake of this post) in Man of Steel 2, Batman, having just met Superman, defeats him in the manner he does in Miller’s book, or in any other manner whatsoever, I will walk the hell out of that movie.

Why?

When someone asks me; “Who would win in a fight between Superman and Batman?”. I always think of one of my favourite scenes in another Snyder associated project, Watchmen. During the climactic confrontation between Dr Manhattan and Ozymandias, Manhattan says to Ozymandias:

“The world’s smartest man poses no more threat to me, than does it’s smartest termite”.

And I feel that quote applies to a confrontation between Batman and Superman. Especially as Snyder intends to have the two characters face off against each other at some point in the movie.

There is no way Batman stands a chance against a man who is bulletproof. Against a man who can move quicker than Batman can blink.   Against a man who could punch him into orbit. You thought Bane’s breaking of the Bat was brutal? When Batman’s going up against Superman not only could it end up being brutal, but the fight would reach an abrupt resolution.

And believe me.

It will be quick.

If Batman manages to beat Superman in their first ever on-screen bout, it’ll be like saying Michael Cera will win in a straight up fist fight against Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (once again, I mean no disrespect).

To reiterate, Superman can’t be taken down by ordinary weapons, so how in the hell will Batman beat Superman? Especially as Snyder has yet to introduce Kryptonite to his cinematic universe. In fact, in the Snyderverse, even Superman himself doesn’t yet know that he is vulnerable to krptonite. So how is Batman going to find that one out?

It’s not just the fact that a Batman victory would make no logical sense, but I feel a Batman victory is ultimately playing up to the mass crowd of worlwide Batman fanboys, which, today, seems to be every single person you and I know.

Post Batman & Robin (yes, you know the film I speak of), no one would proudly admit to being a Batman fan. Since Nolan’s brilliant Dark Knight trilogy, everyone and their 86 year old Grandma now claims that they have been a Batman fan for all of their existence.

Unless he’s been living under a rock, Snyder probably knows that Batman has a bigger appeal and fan base than Superman has at this current moment of time, and what will Batman fans love most? To see broody Bruce Wayne knock the stuffing out of goody two shoes super-alien Clark Kent.

In the context of The Dark Knight Returns, I can grudgingly admit that Batman’s victory was well deserved for a few reasons.

Frank Miller was smart in making both Bruce and Clark older men. What this did was that with age Batman had become wiser, not to mention, due to the fact that he knows Superman on a personal level, he knows how Clark would think in combat. He knows Clark’s vulnerabilities. Bruce, with age, has become more experienced in confrontations against everyone’s favourite Kryptonian.

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Therefore, with all that, Bruce would know exactly what he needs to do to take Clark down.

The Dark Knight Returns was not just a brilliant study of Batman, but what made it a great graphic novel was that it also understood Superman as a character. And I’m not just talking his monologue within the tale.

Miller knows Superman still sees Batman as an ally, not an enemy. Miller knew that if it came to it, Clark Kent would still hold back in a duel against his friend; Bruce Wayne. Before the showdown ever took place, Miller had Clark, in typical heroic manner, warn Bruce that:

“It’s like this Bruce — sooner or later, somebody’s going to order me to bring you in. Somebody with authority. When that happens…”

And that’s why I’m not totally angry with Batman’s TDKR victory. Because, at the root of all the tension there was a just reason for why they had to throw down. And I don’t see why they would have to face off when they just met each other on-screen.

Like I said earlier, if the scuffle goes down, and Batman wins, I’m done, because the film becomes an ultimate pledge to the Batboys everywhere when it really is supposed to be a Superman sequel.

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However, I will say this to anyone who has their doubts:

Wait to see more production news and or photos. More costume unveilings and eventually a trailer. And still, I would implore that if you truly love comics, you should at least go and see this film when it is eventually released.

We have finally been given the opportunity to see two of the most iconic and important comic book characters of all time share the screen together for the first time, and I think it’ll be a shame to pass it up.

This has been my first post. I hope I didn’t bore you to death with my fanboyism. There’s a lot more I want to say but I think this is a fair amount. Hope you become interested in what I write and read my next posts…