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.

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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

X-MEN: AND HISTORY REWRITES ITSELF…

Yes, I know, I’m a week late but I’ve finally seen X Men: Days Of Future Past

And before I give my view on it, I have but one word for what I saw: AMAZING!

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(***SPOILERS AHEAD, SO IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE MOVIE YET, YOU HAVE BEEN FOREWARNED. DO NOT READ ON UNLESS YOU HAVE NO INTEREST IN THE MOVIE OR YOU DON’T CARE IF THE PLOT OF A FILM/SERIES IS RUINED FOR YOU***)

First off, the performances from every single actor or actress in this movie was on point. Every one of them who have ever been in one of the films from the X-Men franchise brought their “A” game.

And before I get to the original and current cast, I first have to give props to the newcomers. The new cast that played the future X-Men did well. And as per usual, Peter Dinklage pulls out another terrific performance.

To the regulars…

James McAvoy as young Xavier did really well, pulling off Charles’ transition from being a broken and isolated man to rediscovering the path he needs to take to become the Patrick Stewart incarnation of Xavier we all know and love.

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In terms of Magneto, once again, the Fassbender portrayal of the character is a lot more cooler than Sir Ian McKellen’s one, but that’s only because the older Erik Lensherr is more in tune with his abilities and wiser. Young Erik is still so full of rage, so when he uses his powers he does it in an aggressive manner, whereas older Erik is well resided in the place between peace and tranquility.

Jennifer Lawrence’s incarnation of Mystique is one that fans will love because she is a lot more like her comic book version than she was in the original films.

In the earlier portrayal by Rebecca Romijn, Mystique was definitely cold and calculated and yes she was pretty cool, but she was so robotic because she didn’t have a lot of dialogue. Everything she did was through action, so audiences could hardly empathize with her.

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But this edition of Mystique takes what was great about the previous display of the character and adds the emotion to her. This time, Mystique is part of the film’s soul. Like Charles, she has lost her way, but like Erik, she is filled internally with a lot of conflict.

There was a lot of emotion…

The events that took place between First Class and Days Of Future Past, which include historical events like the Vietnam war hit everyone hard, as losses were suffered from all sides.

As Hank mentioned, most of the students and teachers from the Xavier Institute were drafted in, and one by one they died, and it broke Charles.

It was sad to hear that some of the characters that, even though they were not incredibly relevant, from First Class, met tragic fates including Emma, Angel and Banshee.

Erik, Raven, Hank and even Alex have all been broken like Charles. What’s more is how they have all decided to take different approaches to get over the losses.

It’s no wonder why we find young Charles a damaged man to the point that he tells Logan that everyone dies some day.

And the film didn’t just deal with the emotional state of the characters, but also about their relationships with each other. About trying to repair what was broken or about characters trying to find their way. Especially the Young Charles/Erik/Mystique element.

The scene on the plane ride to Paris in which Erik and Charles argue about who abandoned who summed up a very delicate relationship.

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It’s clear that they both still care for each other, and it’s why Charles selfishly rages at Erik that he abandoned him and took Raven away. Taking away the things that mattered most to him. But Erik is not just angry about Charles’ abandonment but also at the fact that him abandoning Erik cost the lives of so many allies they hold dear.

Hugh Jackman as always, kills it as Wolverine. Even if people don’t like Logan’s stand out films, you can’t help go see it because of Jackman. The character is already the most popular of the X-Men, and Jackman’s portrayal of him keeps that favouritism in place.

Even though I don’t like the fact that Wolverine is always central to the plot of the Singer films, in Days Of Future Past I was glad he was the central character thread that kept both the timelines together. I felt Logan’s pain and impatience when he was trying to convince young Charles that he was telling the truth.

Especially when he grabs Charles and tells him that he has come a long way and has lost a lot of good friends who were good people. And what’s more he tells Charles that if he doesn’t listen to him he too will suffer the same losses and they hurt just as worse.

The scene with Logan that really got me was when he tells young Charles on the plane to Washington that even though when he saw tragic memories, there were also good ones and begs Charles to promise him that he find the X-Men. To find Storm, Jean, Scott.

I keep saying that the film is filled with emotion because that’s as best how I can describe it. Yes, the matters at hand and the action are important, but they weren’t the factors that stood out to me. It was the emotions that kept me locked into the film.

Alongside Wolverine, young Charles and Mystique were essentially the heart of the film, keeping it emotionally engaging. Even Hank, who you can see was still quite saddened by Raven’s departure added more to the tender serving.

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In fact, a lot of the characters brought so much emotional energy, but it’s the first three just mentioned that really stick out.

Heck, even that one scene that we saw Alex Summers in tugged at the heartstrings, especially when he gets onto the plane and asks a disguised Raven if she was coming home. I would have liked to have seen his character have a full stay in this movie and have a lot to do.

Will he make a possible appearance in Apocalypse? It would be interesting to see how they tackle his relation to young Scott. It’ll probably be like the Magneto/Quicksilver elevator scene.

It was also touching to see that the film wasn’t just about Charles finding hope again, but it reached out to audience members to tell them that no matter how dark things get, there’s always a bright side and that we have to keep hoping.

I think what a lot of the fans will take from this film is what happens at the end, and I’m not just talking post credits…

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The creation of the sentinel programme happened at the same time as the original trilogy, so while the films were taking place sentinels were being built and modified to be more adaptable in combat against mutants.

By putting an end to the Sentinel programme it means the X-Men aren’t going to meet the fate they end up in at the start of the film.

And with it comes changes to the current timeline.

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Logan didn’t join Charles’ team until the first film (I was going to say he didn’t meet Charles until the first film, but we all remember that scene from First Class). But by meeting him in 1973 that means (and this is me making an assumption), he will be a part of Charles’ X-team for the next installment, which was hinted at when after the events in the 70’s Hank asks Charles of Logan’s fate and when Logan meets Charles in his office in the new timeline, Charles tells him he’s got a lot of catching up to do from 1973.

It would only make sense…

Not to mention when Logan wakes up, all the beloved characters from the original movie reach a happier fate, and what’s more, like Logan, we feel such joy and relief and happiness when we find that both Jean and Scott (yes that Scott as in Scott Summers as in Cyclops), is still alive.

You’re not just happy to see that they’re alive but you’re happy to see that with all the pain and loss that Wolverine suffered, he’s finally got a peaceful and happier resolution to his story.

With Scott and Jean alive again, it now means X-Force is gonna be a go, because there’s no X-Force without Cable, and Cable is the son of Scott and (a clone of) Jean Grey. If they don’t exist, neither does he.

Up next, for those who didn’t see the post credits scene is Apocalypse. Rumour has it that it’ll be set in the 80’s and young Scott will be in the team, as well as Quicksilver. If that be the case I will be incredibly excited, especially on the Cyclops front.

My reason for this huge bias towards the Summers kid is that if you have a general knowledge of the X-Men comics, you’d know how vital and important of a character he is to the series.

And I’d say that that’s my only beef with Singer’s franchise. No one sees how important Scott is to the X-Men. When you think of some of the most important and iconic stories in the comics, from the Dark Phoenix saga to Age of Apocalypse, Scott is in some way connected to them.

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Scott is connected to Age of Apocalypse. How? Because his future child is fighting for survival in that timeline.

Scott is connected to the Dark Phoenix Saga. How? Simply because he and Jean are the love of each other’s lives and Jean being overcome with the Phoenix Force puts a strain on their marriage.

Not to mention, in recent events (Avengers Vs X-Men), Scott is at the centre of the story as he comes to understanding what Jean went through and kills Charles at his own hand.

The transition made by Scott from Charles’ prodigal son to having Magneto as a close ally is one that determines the fate of the entire X-team and it’s one of those issues that I feel should be brought to the fray.

Also, with the timeline changing, it now gives Singer the chance an attempt to make a Dark Phoenix movie, an opportunity tragically missed by The Last Stand.

It was clear that at the end of X2: X-Men United, Singer had plans to make a Phoenix movie, so changing the X-universe would probably allow him to make the Dark phoenix movie he probably planned since 2003.

There were so many things about this movie that I loved, from the story, to the action, to the characters and to the actors that played them. This film demonstrated why Bryan Singer was the right man to direct the X-Men films.

It’s as if the last few films in the X-Men franchise (with the exception of First Class) didn’t take place and that he picked up where he left off from the second film.

This film is like a hail to his return but also a sentimental last goodbye to the original cast.

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I believe Days Of Future Past is a film in the franchise that would rank highly amongst fans. For me, it’s the best one, and I loved the original movie from 14 years ago.

It’s very rare for me to say that the newest installment of a highly established franchise is the best addition.

5/5