Arrival Is an Intricate Film that Snaps into Place in its Finale

Caution: this review contains major spoilers for the film.

It’s hard to talk about Arrival without spoiling the film. So much of what makes it more than just a well-done first contact story is tied up in its later developments. They recontextualize enough of the prior proceedings that trying to discuss the import or quality of the film without taking it as a whole is like trying to give someone directions without letting them know the destination.

But its premise is deceptively straightforward. In the world of Arrival, aliens have come to Earth in twelve ships scattered across the globe. Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is a linguist brought by the U.S. Military to a ship located in Montana, in an attempt to help humanity communicate with this extraterrestrial presence. With the help of theoretical physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) and a buffer provided by Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker), Banks slowly but surely finds ways to speak with these seemingly unknowable beings, with the American team alternatively working with and against similar groups around the world attempting the same.

Continue reading

Posted in Movies, Prestige Pictures | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Game of Thrones: Family Comes First in “The Dragon and the Wolf”

Family is everything. That was Tywin Lannister’s lesson, even if his interpretation of the sentiment left something to be desired. More than the moment, more than a fleeting grievance, he tried to teach his children that the Lannister name was their legacy and that their family is what truly mattered. “The Dragon and the Wolf” plays with this idea, the concept of who genuinely cares about the blood of their blood, who’s willing to put their own ambitions above the same, and what it gets each of them.

Continue reading at Consequence of Sound →

Posted in Game of Thrones, Television | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Game of Thrones: Winter Comes Too Fast “Beyond the Wall”

As Game of Thrones draws to a close, the set pieces are bigger, the stakes are higher, and the conflicts are grander. Gone are the days when different characters could be forever wandering across the map while the audience waited with baited breath for them to cross paths. More and more, our good guys and bad guys are clumped together, fighting the dead, their nearest adversaries, or one another, but now doing so in big groups rather than scattered pairings.

And yet, as the show starts to reach its climax, unveiling meetings and match-ups the fans have been salivating over for ages, I find myself relishing the moments that feel more like the show’s long middles than its grand finales. Those were the days of Game of Thrones where our favorite (and least favorite) characters would schlep all around Westeros having conversations with one another, facing the occasional dust up, and wondering what it all meant and about their place in these big events.

Continue reading at Consequence of Sound →

Posted in Game of Thrones, Television | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Game of Thrones: “Eastwatch” Offers Uneasy Alliances and the Longview

Game of Thrones is about opposition, shifting alliances, and rivals stabbing one another in the back. But in a weird way, it’s also about teamwork and cooperation. The events that have ravaged Westeros and turned king against king against king have also produced no end of unexpected allies and strange bedfellows.

From the beginning of the series, when Catelyn Stark forged an uneasy alliance with Tyrion Lannister, to the present where warring queens agree to talk armistice, bastards become brothers in arms, and blacksmiths fight alongside the men who once bought and sold them, the series has always shown that interests sometimes align and serve to unite people who, under other circumstances, might be at one another’s throats.

Continue reading at Consequence of Sound →

Posted in Game of Thrones, Television | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Game of Thrones: The Dizzying Thrills, the Blazing Horrors, and “The Spoils of War”

Game of Thrones likes to have its cake and eat it, too, especially when it comes to war and its wide-ranging consequences. It’s a show founded on a sense of anticipation. When will the Starks reunite? When will Daenerys Targaryen lay siege to Westeros? When will The White Walkers breach The Wall? But it’s equally founded on depicting the horror and unexpected costs of those convergence points.

That means its heart-pumping battles and heart-warming reunions are always in a state of superposition. Those moments are exhilarating but also harrowing. Home is a sanctuary, but home has changed. And war is glorious, but war is also hell.

Continue reading at Consequence of Sound →

Posted in Game of Thrones, General, Television | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Game of Thrones: “The Queen’s Justice” Finds Poetry in Westeros

Westeros isn’t much for poetry. The Seven Kingdoms seem to have produced a grand total of two songs, give or take the musical stylings of Ed Sheeran, which are so very beloved by the Game of Thrones fanbase. Despite that, there is great poetry in these contentious lands, a call and response that echoes across seas and across ages. But true to the character of the place, it finds its form in death and vengeance rather than in meter and verse.

Continue reading at Consequence of Sound →

Posted in Game of Thrones, Television | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Game of Thrones: “Stormborn” Sees Through Ice and Fire, Pleasure and Pain

One of the great hopes and great fears in life is that the people around us will see us for who we truly are. When push comes to shove, the masks we wear, the titles we bear, the icons and ornaments we surround ourselves with, can be pierced by those perceptive enough to see past them. In Westeros, as in all places, that means sometimes those closest to us see the best and most human parts of who we are; sometimes it means they see us at our weakest and worst, and sometimes they see who we used to be and are no longer.

Continue reading at Consequence of Sound →

Posted in Game of Thrones, Television | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Game of Thrones: “Dragonstone” Offers a Brilliant Homecoming


“Dragonstone” is a homecoming. For Game of Thrones, that means something very different than for the standard alma mater. In Westeros, it means throne rooms, dead bodies, and lush locales in which to do the same thing we do every season — try to take over the world. But the show starts its seventh season with an episode about being away, coming back home, and reflecting on what’s changed, within and without, since you left.

Continue reading at Consequence of Sound →

Posted in Game of Thrones, Television | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Game of Thrones: The Beginning of the End in “The Winds of Winter”


Game of Thrones
, as a series, franchise, and brand, is always going to stand in the shadow of The Red Wedding. More than Ned’s beheading, more than Joffrey’s demise, more than the battles of Blackwater Bay or The Wall or Hardhome or the bastards, the Red Wedding is the event that defined the series in the popular consciousness. For a long time, it felt like everything in the show up to that point had been building to that moment, and everything that came after was a consequence of it. The third season in particular was a focal point of the larger story Game of Thrones show was telling, with that mortal matrimony as its zenith.

Season 6 of Game of Thrones has felt more like a sequel to Season 3 than an extension of the work that the show did in Seasons 4 and 5. It is the season of resurrection, one where we’ve witnessed the returns (and, just as often, the demises) of those we knew long ago: The Brotherhood Without Banners, The Blackfish, Osha and Rickon, Benjen Stark, Walder Frey, and more. Whether it’s the freedom that comes from no longer being constrained by George R. R. Martin’s novels, or the knowledge that the end is nigh, Game of Thrones spent much of its sixth year tying off loose ends that been dangling for years, often in a characteristically lethal fashion.

The culmination of that spirit comes in “The Winds of Winter,” a season finale of beginnings and endings. It is the close of one epoch of the show — the one which spun out from the Red Wedding, scattered our heroes across oceans, and brought more and more characters into the fold — and the beginning of another. The monarchs from the War of the Five Kings are dead. Winter is here. And now it’s the future that’s coming.

Continue reading

Posted in Game of Thrones | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Spider-Man: Homecoming Stands Up for the Little Guy


The great promise of Agents of Shield and Netflix’s Defenders series was the idea that these shows would examine what happened when The Avengers weren’t around to save the day, in the spaces below their notice. The pitch went that these shows would dig into the meat and potatoes work of facing down threats in a world where aliens attack, as well as the street-level problems that can’t be solved with energy blasts and theater-shaking explosions. But while each of the MCU’s television series have done their share of noble work, they’ve rarely felt connected to their cinematic brethren. Rather than exploring what it means to live in the shadow of Marvel’s biggest heroes, more often than not, these shows feel as though they exist within their own separate worlds.

Enter Spiderman: Homecoming, a film devoted to exploring the lives of people who live under the pedestal that Tony Stark and The Avengers occupy. Despite Spider-Man’s dive into the fray in Civil War, Homecoming spends most of its runtime with Peter Parker (Tom Holland) yearning to be more than a momentary part of that super-team. The nascent web-slinger feels like he’s on the outside looking in and not significant enough to rate much attention from Tony Stark (or his driver, Happy Hogan, who’s the “point man” on the Spider-Man project). But the script, credited to a six-man team, smartly parallels Peter’s sense of being beneath his idols’ notice with a villain who’s motivated by the sense that the Starks of the world don’t care about the little people like him.

Continue reading

Posted in Movies, Superhero Movies | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment